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USDA researchers, collaborators sequence genomes of fungi that threaten wheat, poplars
Date:5/9/2011

ng increasingly important to the biofuel industry in the United States and Europe because of its rapid and significant production of biomass.

The study represents the first genome-wide characterization of any rust fungus, a diverse group of more than 6,000 species, according to Les Szabo, a lead researcher on this project. Szabo works at the ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn.

Rust fungi depend on living tissue of their hosts for survival. The pathogens secrete proteins that enable them to block the host plant's defenses and steal nutrients. The research uncovered evidence that both pathogens have large numbers of such "effector" proteins, an indication that they likely co-evolved with their host plants, according to the study authors.

Because they need a plant host to survive, the pathogens can't be cultured in a laboratory and are notoriously hard to study. But the genetic sequencing opens a window into the never-ending arms race between these pathogens and their hosts, Szabo said.

The team's sequence data has been released in GenBank, a genetic database administered by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health.


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Contact: Dennis O'Brien
dennis.obrien@ars.usda.gov
301-504-1624
United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics
Source:Eurekalert

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