Development of molecular markers of resistance to pine wilt disease in Pinus pinaster 


The pine wilt disease, caused by the pine wood nematode (PWN) Bursaphelencus xylophilus, is one of the most serious forest tree diseases currently affecting coniferous forests in eastern Asia and Iberian Peninsula. The disease is causing high economic losses to the forest-based sector and threatening forest ecosystems in the affected areas. Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), the most relevant conifer species in southwestern Europe in terms of economic, social and ecologic values, has shown extreme susceptibility to the PWN.

Among the strategies to face the problem, a maritime pine selection program has been initiated by INIAV to identify resistant /tolerant and susceptible trees growing in affected areas. Genetic selection tests detected genetic variability in the response to the nematode. The main aim of the project is to identify molecular markers for discriminating resistant/tolerant and susceptible plants at an early growth stage.

The work plan includes:

(I) Identification of differentially expressed genes upon PWN infection in resistant versus susceptible plants, and identification of SNPs within their coding regions, with a special focus on the transcripts targeted by microRNAs

(II) Detection of QTLs by SNP genotyping and plant phenotyping

(III) Identification of candidate genes associated to PWN response based on their co-localization with QTLs, and information from differential expression analysis

As a major output, molecular markers potentially useful in selection and breeding of PWN resistant trees will be proposed.


Latest news

Webinar “Pine Wilt Disease: recent advances in molecular analyses and breeding approaches” 30th June 2022, organised by the ForGen Lab

Publication in Scientific Reports (2022) MicroRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation of Pinus pinaster response and resistance to pinewood nematode

Publication in Forests (2022) SNP detection in Pinus pinaster transcriptome and association with resistance to pinewood nematode

Publication in Frontiers in Plant Sciences (2021):Insights into the mechanisms implicated in Pinus pinaster resistance to Pinewood Nematode


Communication by Inês Modesto at Plant Biology Europe 2021


FCUL – Célia Miguel (IR), Dora Batista, Vera Inácio, André Mendes, Bruno Costa, Ana Catarina Silva

INIAV – Isabel Carrasquinho, Lurdes Inácio, Maria João Barrento

ITQB NOVA – Inês Chaves, Inês Modesto, Ana Milhinhos, Pedro Perdiguero

INIA (Spain) – María-Teresa Cervera, José Antonio Cabezas, María-Ángeles Guevara

Financiado pela Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P./MCTES através de fundos nacionais (PIDDAC) e financiado pelo Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (FEDER) da União Europeia, através do Programa Operacional Regional de Lisboa do Portugal 2020 ou de outros programas que lhe possam suceder (PTDC/BAA-MOL/28379/2017 e LISBOA-01-0145-FEDER-028379)