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About Our Lab

Research in the Baum lab focuses on the compatible interaction between cyst nematodes and their hosts with particular emphasis on the soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines) and the sugar beet cyst nematode (H. schachtii).  To a smaller extent, some projects are dealing with the root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne spp.  This group of so-called sedentary endoparasitic phytonematodes represents the most damaging group of plant-parasitic nematode and is responsible for billions of annual losses.  We are working to understand the molecular, genetic, and biochemical events of successful plant parasitism, the so-called compatible interaction. For this purpose, we are characterizing the signal transduction events leading to successful nematode establishment and parasitism with an ever increasing emphasis on cell biological approaches. These efforts include characterization of changes in plant and nematode gene expression during the different phases of parasitism, functional characterization of genes involved in the plant-nematode interaction, and most importantly, the study of nematode effector proteins, a group of molecules we call parasitism proteins.

Diagram of a nematode attacking a plant

We are frequently using the Arabidopsis thaliana model system because this plant is successfully infected by H. schachtii and gives us access to a wide variety of genetic and molecular resources.  Ultimately, understanding the compatible plant-nematode interaction will allow us to interfere with parasitism through genetic engineering of host plants in order to solve major agricultural and horticultural problems.  Currently, we are using an RNAi-based approach to decrease plant susceptibility to nematodes.


Recent News

January 12, 2017

Thomas Baum and Tarek Hewezi recently co-authored a book chapter in Advances in Botanical Research, on the Communication of Sedentary Plant-Parasitic Nematodes With Their Host Plants.   Hewezi, a former post-doctoral researcher in the Baum lab is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Tennessee.  A link to the book chapter is available.

December 27, 2016

Thomas Baum presented a talk "Genomic Resources for the Soybean Cyst Nematode" at the SCN Conference (  in Coral Gables, Florida, which was held from December 13-15, 2016.   The talk highlighted some of the recent advances in the SCN genome initiative.   

October 24, 2016

Jason Noon's recent publication, A Plasmodium‐like virulence effector of the soybean cyst nematode suppresses plant innate immunity,  JB Noon, M Qi, DN Sill, U Muppirala, S Eves‐van den Akker, TR Maier, D Dobbs , MG Mitchum, T Hewezi and TJ Baum, New Phytologist (2016) 212: 444–460, was also featured in commentary in the same journal issue.

October 24, 2016

Thomas Baum and Tom Maier traveled to Braga, Portugal in September 2016 to attend the European Society of Nematologist's 32nd Symposium.   While attending the meeting, Baum and Maier also participated in a workshop to discuss the current state of the progress in plant-parasitic nematode transformation.

October 24, 2016

Thomas Baum chaired a session on Microbial Manipulation of the Host and presented a talk, entitled "Mechanisms of Host Manipulations by Heterodera Cyst Nematodes," at the 2016 MPMI meeting held in Portland, Oregon on July 17-21, 2016.

Featured Publications