Sequencing the Major Mycosphaerella Pathogens of Wheat and Banana

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Mycosphaerella is one of the largest genera of plant-pathogenic fungi with more than 1,000 named species, many of which are important pathogens causing leaf spotting diseases in a wide variety of crops including cereals, citrus, banana, eucalypts, soft fruits and horticultural crops. A few species of Mycosphaerella cause disease in humans and other vertebrates. An international project was initiated to sequence the genomes of M. graminicola and M. fijiensis, two of the most economically important pathogens of wheat and banana, respectively, along with 40,000 ESTs from M. fijiensis and the related maize pathogen Cercospora zeae-maydis. The 9x M. graminicola genome size is 39.8 Mb with chromosome sizes from 548 kb to 6 Mb and a complete circular mitochondrial genome of 43,947 bp. Our data indicate that M. graminicola has both the largest chromosome number and the smallest chromosome sizes recorded among filamentous ascomycetes. The Mycosphaerella Genomics Consortium, which was established in 2003, decided to use M. graminicola as the model to develop more genetic and genomic research on M. fijiensis. Since 2003, M. fijiensis EST sequencing has resulted in more than 30,000 ESTs, and the genome sequencing was recently finished at 7.8x. The genome size of M. fijiensis is 80% larger than that of M. graminicola. The completed mitochondrial sequence is more then twice as large, and the estimated nuclear genome size is approximately 72 Mb. The extension of the genome size of M. fijiensis seems to be mostly due to additional repeated sequences. The status of Mycosphaerella sequencing will have a significant effect on future studies aimed at the control of black leaf streak disease. The current status of both sequencing projects and other initiatives to exploit this information and to put it into a multidisciplinary approach focusing on sustainable management of the disease will be discussed


ConferenceISHS/ProMusa Symposium on Recent Advances in Banana Crop Protection for Sustainable Production and Improved Livelihoods, White River, South Africa


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