From the University of Minnesota News Service http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/news_details.php?release=070906_3489&page=NS
"Scientists led by a team from the University of Minnesota have sequenced the genome of the fungal
pathogen that causes the deadly grain disease Fusarium Head Blight (FHB). Their findings [were] published in Science (Cuomo et al, "The Fusarium graminearum genome reveals a link between localized polymorphism and pathogen specialization," vol. 317, 7 September 2007, 1400-1402).
The disease can have devastating effects on wheat and barley crops, because it creates toxins that can sicken humans and livestock who consume infected grain. It is one of the most significant plant pathogens worldwide...Fungicides are costly and not always effective.
The FHB pathogen has about 13,000 genes. However, "(because of the sequencing breakthrough), now we can look at the genes in detail, in terms of their ability to allow the pathogen to cause disease and produce toxin," said H. Corby Kistler, an adjunct professor of plant pathology at the U of M and a research geneticist for the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.
According to Kistler, sequencing the genome will help researchers determine how the disease operates at a genetic level and eventually, how to prevent it. The research could also help fight other plant diseases."
The research was a multinational effort, with the participation of university researchers in Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, UK, Canada, France, and the Ukraine, along with U.S.-based groups (Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Purdue, Michigan State, Cornell, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, St. Louis University, Universities of Arizona and Tennessee, and the USDA). Further analyses of gene products also will prove to be data-intensive.