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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MOLECULAR AND GENETIC MECHANISMS OF FUNGAL DISEASE RESISTANCE IN GRAIN CROPS

Location: Crop Production and Pest Control Research

Title: The Mycosphaerella Genomics Consortium: Understanding Pathogenicity and Adaptation

Authors
item GOODWIN, STEPHEN
item Stergiopoulos, -
item DE Wit P.J.G.M., -
item Kema, G.H.J. -

Submitted to: Canadian Phytopathological Society Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 14, 2010
Publication Date: June 21, 2010
Citation: Goodwin, S.B., Stergiopoulos, De Wit P.J.G.M., Kema, G. 2010. The Mycosphaerella Genomics Consortium: Understanding Pathogenicity and Adaptation. Canadian Phytopathological Society Meeting.

Technical Abstract: Mycosphaerella is one of the largest genera of plant pathogenic fungi. Due to their high economic importance, the genomes of two Mycosphaerella species have been sequenced and four others are in progress. Analysis of these genomes has potential practical benefits through identification of effectors involved in host-pathogen interactions, better understanding of potential fungicide targets, and development and improvement of enzymes for biofuel production and other industrial processes. Comparative genomics analyses of the banana pathogen Mycosphaerella fijiensis and the related tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum identified highly similar effector genes in both species, including Avr4 and Ecp2. The Avr4 effector of M. fijiensis is functionally equivalent to the C. fulvum Avr4, and is also recognized by the cognate Cf-4 resistance gene in tomato. This raises the intriguing possibility that the Cf-4 gene from tomato, when transferred to banana, could provide resistance to M. fijiensis. This paves the way for identification of additional effector genes in pathogen genomes and their cognate receptors in host plants, which could provide an almost unlimited source of new resistance genes for future plant improvement. Next to effectors, genes that are unique to particular fungal genera or species could be tested as fungicide targets that could be highly specific, with minimal effects on nontarget organisms. Comparative analyses of multiple fungal genomes revealed that the suite of genes for cell-wall degradation in grass versus non-grass pathogens is adapted to cell-wall composition of their hosts. Such enzymes have the potential to be harnessed for increased efficiency of ethanol production. Additional genomes of Mycosphaerella species and other Dothideomycete fungi with diverse nutritional strategies will enable discovery of novel important genes by comparative genomics.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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