An international consortium of scientists, including scientists from DOE JGI, have published the analysis for Mycosphaerella graminicola, the first filamentous fungus to be fully finished. Having the 39.7 million nucleotide genome available will enable researchers to learn more about the methods plant pathogens use to attack and damage crops, including those being considered for use as feedstocks for biofuels production.
As detailed in the June 9, 2011 issue of PLoS Genetics, the fungal pathogen causes leaf blotch disease in wheat. Scientists had recognized the effects of this disease but struggled with understanding the pathogen’s behavior.
The M. graminicola genome project was taken on as part of the 2005 Community Sequencing Program to characterize the pathway by which the fungal pathogen invades and damages wheat.
Igor Grigoriev, the Fungal Program head at the DOE JGI, said “the finished genome of Mycosphaerella graminicola will serve as an excellent reference for analyzing other bioenergy crop pathogens that are being sequenced by the JGI.”
Among these pathogens is the fungus that causes poplar leaf rust, which genome was published earlier this year. By establishing this wide base of knowledge, scientists will be better able to apply the findings from this specific genome to a larger variety of pathogens, and thus be more successful in limiting problems to important crops.