This project entails the sequencing of 26 individual mitochondrial genomes that reflect the diversity inherent in the Peronosporomycetes, an economically important group of lower eukaryotes traditionally referred to as oomycetes. These “protistans” are ecological equivalents of fungi and share morphological, biochemical, and molecular characteristics with the chromophytic algae as members of the newly recognized kingdom stramenopila.
This under-studied group of organisms continues to have a profound negative impact on agriculture and thus on the use of agricultural products as potential renewable energy sources. Several of the host crops (e.g. maize and soybean), historically mainstays of global food supplies, are becoming important renewable energy sources, including applications in the fuel industry.
This project takes a broader than usual view of a sequencing project in that it is not designed to provide definitive data for a single organism, but rather to provide a more focused understanding of the diverse relationships within an economically important and poorly understood class of organisms. Results from this study should benefit all members of the scientific community involved with some aspect of stramenopile research. The definitive analysis of these mitochondrial genomes should permit a more robust analysis of the evolutionary relatedness between oomycetes, hyphochytriomycetes, and chromophytes. The more immediate economic application is the likely use of data for design of rapid identification assays to monitor infectious oomycete agents in aquaculture, to which molluscan and crustacean larval forms are especially susceptible.
Principal Investigators: Michael E.S. Hudspeth and Deborah S. Hudspeth (Northern Illinois Univ.).