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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: Gearing Up for Comparative Genomics: Analyses of the Fungal Class Dothideomycetes. Dothideomycetes Comparative Genomics Session: 25th Fungal Genetics Conference, Pacific Grove, CA, USA, March 2009

Authors
item Goodwin, Stephen
item Kema, Gert H. -

Submitted to: New Phytologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 21, 2009
Publication Date: June 29, 2009
Citation: Goodwin, S.B., Kema, G.J. 2009. Gearing Up for Comparative Genomics: Analyses of the Fungal Class Dothideomycetes. New Phytologist. 183:250-253.

Interpretive Summary: The Dothideomycetes is one of the largest and most important groups of fungi, that collectively infects almost every major crop plant, whether for food, feed, fiber or fuel. In addition to plant pathogens, the class includes fungi with an unparalleled ecological, life history and metabolic diversity. Genomes of seven Dothideomycetes have been sequenced but have only been analyzed separately. The purpose of the Dothideomycetes Comparative Genomics session at the 25th Fungal Genetics Conference was to highlight recent progress on comparative analyses of this group. To accomplish this goal, talks were selected from submitted abstracts because they presented new tools for high-throughput functional analysis of genes that could be applied to other sequenced genomes, or used a comparative genomics approach to reveal new insights into the biology of these fungi. Most Dothideomycetes are plant pathogens, and understanding how they interact with their plant hosts was a major focus of the session. Many interesting results were reported during the session. Some of these identified copies of interesting genes in multiple species, which revealed new insights into the evolution of genes that interact with host plants and those that are found on dispensable chromosomes, and also about a potentially new mode of inactivation of an otherwise single-copy gene. The power of these analyses to illuminate host-pathogen interactions will increase greatly once genome sequences also are available for the host plants. The future of comparative genomics is bright and increasing. The recent session on Dothideomycetes Comparative Genomics was extremely useful to scientists at the meetings and provided a first small hint of what is to come as more fungal and plant genomes are sequenced.

Technical Abstract: Members of the Dothideomycetes, the largest and most important group of fungi, collectively infect almost every major monocot and dicot crop, whether for food, feed, fiber or fuel. In addition to plant pathogens, the class includes fungi with an unparalleled ecological, life history and metabolic diversity. Dothideomycetes are present on every continent, including Antarctica, and are important to ecosystem health and global carbon cycling. Many are lichenized or are otherwise tolerant of environmental extremes including heat, cold and humidity. Some produce enzymes that help degrade rocks while others can capture and metabolize ethanol vapors. A few are pathogens of humans or livestock, and the class includes the two most commonly detected human allergens and a leading cause of asthma. Thus, Dothideomycetes are extremely important to human as well as plant health. As more genomes are sequenced the potential power of comparative analyses increases. Being able to search complete genomes for homologs of interesting genes has revealed new insights into the evolution of effectors and the genes on dispensable chromosomes, and also about a potentially new mode of inactivation of an otherwise single-copy gene. Estimates of selection on all genes in an organism will identify those that are under directional selection and might be involved in host-pathogen interactions and speciation. The power of these analyses to illuminate host-pathogen interactions will increase greatly once genome sequences also are available for the host plants. The future of comparative genomics is bright and increasing. The recent session on Dothideomycetes Comparative Genomics provided a first small hint of what is to come as more fungal and plant genomes are sequenced.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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