The pinewood nematode (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, is a mycophagous and phytophagous pathogen responsible for the current widespread epidemic of the pine wilt disease, which has become a major threat to pine forests throughout the world. Despite the availability of several preventive trunk-injection agents, no therapeutic trunk-injection agent for eradication of PWN currently exists. In the characterization of basic physiological properties of B. xylophilus YB-1 isolates, we established a high-throughput screening (HTS) method that identifies potential hits within approximately 7 h. Using this HTS method, we screened 206 compounds with known activities, mostly antifungal, for antinematodal activities and identified HWY-4213 (1-n-undecyl-2-[2-fluorphenyl] methyl-3,4-dihydro-6,7-dimethoxy-isoquinolinium chloride), a highly water-soluble protoberberine derivative, as a potent nematicidal and antifungal agent. When tested on 4 year-old pinewood seedlings that were infected with YB-1 isolates, HWY-4213 exhibited a potent therapeutic nematicidal activity. Further tests of screening 39 Caenorhabditis elegans mutants deficient in channel proteins and B. xylophilus sensitivity to Ca2+ channel blockers suggested that HWY-4213 targets the calcium channel proteins. Our study marks a technical breakthrough by developing a novel HTS method that leads to the discovery HWY-4213 as a dual-acting antinematodal and antifungal compound.
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