Navigation Links
Fungus genome yielding answers to protect grains, people and animals
Date:10/5/2007

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Why a pathogen is a pathogen may be answered as scientists study the recently mapped genetic makeup of a fungus that spawns the worst cereal grains disease known and also can produce toxins potentially fatal to people and livestock.

The fungus, which is especially destructive to wheat and barley, has resulted in an estimated $10 billion in damage to U.S. crops over the past 10 years. The scientists who sequenced the fungus' genes said that the genome will help them discover what makes this particular pathogen so harmful, what triggers the process that spreads the fungus and why various fungi attack specific plants.

These investigations also may lead to producing plants that are completely resistant to the fungus Fusarium graminearum, something that hasn't been possible previously, said Jin-Rong Xu, a Purdue University molecular biologist. He is pinpointing which genes enable the fungus to cause the disease Fusarium head blight, or scab.

In a recent issue of the journal Science, Xu and an international scientific team reported that certain chromosomal regions in Fusarium graminearum appear to dictate plant and fungus molecular interactions that allow the fungus to contaminate crops and cause disease.

The researchers located all of the genes on the fungus' chromosomes and then determined the genes' chemical makeup, or sequence.

"The Fusarium graminearum genome was easy to assemble because, unlike other fungal genomes, there aren't too many repetitive DNA sequences," Xu said. "It seems that this Fusarium can efficiently detect and remove duplicated sequences or transposable elements, which kept the genome clean and well-organized."

This basic information on the Fusarium graminearum genome will aid in further research and also provide information on other fungi and their interaction with plants, he said.

"Because we now have the genome sequence and a microarray containing the whole genome, it will help us determine what genes allow this fungus to behave as it does," Xu said. "It also will make it easier to identify and determine the function of similar genes in other pathogens and their plant interactions."

Fusarium graminearum, which exists worldwide, cuts crop yield, damages grain quality and produces mycotoxins. The fungus caused a widespread head blight epidemic during the 1990s in wheat- and barley-growing regions around the world. Experts estimate that from 1998 to 2000 the central and northern Great Plains of the United States suffered economic losses of $2.7 billion due to the disease. In Indiana alone in 1996, the fungus caused at least $38 million in crop loss, according to the USDA.

The mycotoxins caused by the fungus can affect people and livestock that ingest infected grain. Pigs, cattle, horses, poultry and people can develop vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, staggering, skin irritation and immunosuppression. The most severe cases can be fatal.

Some scientific evidence suggests that these toxins cause cancer. People in developing countries are at the greatest risk of eating grain contaminated with Fusarium mycotoxins. Although not all types of Fusarium cause disease and produce toxins, those types that do infect other crops, including corn and hay.

Currently, fungicides aren't effective because the fungus only attacks during the beginning of the plants' flowering stage. It's difficult to gauge the precise time to spray, and it's expensive to try to protect the crops over a long period. The fungus can survive through the winter in crop remnants left in fields as natural mulch.

The pathogen is most likely to appear and cause infection in early spring when the weather is warm and humid or rainy. By the time Fusarium contamination is noticeable on plants, head blight has already damaged the grain.

Xu is searching for the genes involved in the infection process.

"We are using the whole-genome microarray of Fusarium graminearum to identify the genes that are functional during plant infection," Xu said. "We are looking at the biochemical signaling pathways that influence whether a gene is turned on or off. This will help us find ways to develop new, stable and environmentally safe ways to prevent these infections."


'/>"/>

Contact: Susan A. Steeves,
ssteeves@purdue.edu
765-496-7481
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists decipher genome of fungus that can cause life-threatening infections
2. Same-Sex Mating Discovered in a Toxic Fungus
3. Experiment station researchers to explore genome of disease-fighting fungus
4. Fungus Effective Against Winged Termites
5. Fungus-farming termites descend from an African rain forest Eve
6. Secret sex life of killer fungus?
7. Purdue researchers find key to rice blast fungus
8. Scientists develop fungus-fighting vaccine
9. Breaking the mold: Research teams sequence three fungus genomes
10. Invasive species harms native hardwoods by killing soil fungus
11. New lab technique churns out fungus potential cancer fighter
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April ... EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... today announced a global partnership that will provide ... to use mobile banking and payment services.      ... a key innovation area for financial services, but it also ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... UAE, April 20, 2016 The ... as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all ... fingerprint reader or the door interface with integration authorization ... access control systems. The minimal dimensions of the access ... into the building installations offer considerable freedom of design ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting ... are setting a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks ... By leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely ... pulse and body mass index, and, when they opt ... and convenient visit to a local retail location at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... Diego, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... Diego area and has consistently been rated one of its top attractions. Fortune ... the globe to participate in a unique and intimate team-building experience. , Each event ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... Michael Fitzmaurice recently became double board-certified in surgery and surgery of the hand ... Dr. Fitzmaurice is no stranger to going above and beyond in his pursuit ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... LAKE CITY, UTAH. (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... efficiencies in healthcare information exchange, today announced that Charles W. Stellar has been named ... as WEDI’s interim CEO since January 2016. As an executive leader with more than ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... attacks, diabetes, and traumatic injuries, will be accelerated by research at Worcester Polytechnic ... into engines of wound healing and tissue regeneration. , The novel method, developed ...
Breaking Biology Technology: