An international team of researchers co-led by a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist has sequenced the genomes of two fungal pathogens—one that threatens global wheat supplies and another that limits production of a tree crop valued as a future source for biofuel. The sequencing of the genetic codes of wheat stem rust pathogen and poplar leaf rust pathogen is expected to help researchers develop control strategies to address worldwide threats to wheat fields and tree plantations.
Wheat stem rust causes major epidemics of both barley and wheat worldwide. A strain known as Ug99 has spread across Africa and into Central Asia, and has been able to overcome most of the stem-rust-resistant wheat varieties developed over the past 50 years. Poplar leaf rust can cause significant losses in poplar tree plantations. Poplar is an important crop for the wood industry and is becoming increasingly important to the biofuel industry in the United States and Europe because of its rapid and significant production of biomass.
According to Les Szabo, a lead researcher on this project, the study represents the first genome-wide characterization of any rust fungus, a diverse group of more than 6-thousand species. The work was done by USDA’s agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, National Science Foundation, Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota and the French National Institute for Agriculture.
Source: NAFB News Service
Posted by Haylie Shipp