Modesto I, Inácio V, Novikova P, Carrasquinho I, Van de Peer Y, Miguel CM.
Pinewood nematode (PWN, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) is the causal agent of pine wilt disease (PWD), which severely affects Pinus pinaster stands in southwestern Europe. Despite the high susceptibility of P. pinaster, individuals of selected half-sib families have shown genetic variability in survival after PWN inoculation, indicating that breeding for resistance can be a valuable strategy to control PWD. In this work, RNA-seq data from susceptible and resistant plants inoculated with PWN were used for SNP discovery and analysis. A total of 186,506 SNPs were identified, of which 31 were highly differentiated between resistant and susceptible plants, including SNPs in genes involved in cell wall lignification, a process previously linked to PWN resistance. Fifteen of these SNPs were selected for validation through Sanger sequencing and 14 were validated. To evaluate SNP-phenotype associations, 40 half-sib plants were genotyped for six validated SNPs. Associations with phenotype after PWN inoculation were found for two SNPs in two different genes (MEE12 and PCMP-E91), as well as two haplotypes of HIPP41, although significance was not maintained following Bonferroni correction. SNPs here detected may be useful for the development of molecular markers for PWD resistance and should be further investigated in future association studies.