In collaboration with the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne GATC Biotech AG has decoded the genome of the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum higginsianum. The recently published results show that gene expression plays a decisive role in plant disease. With this knowledge the international project aims to improve plant protection from this pest.
Colletotrichum is a genus of pathogenic fungi, comprising about 680 species, affecting agricultural and horticultural crops with varying disease mechanisms. The fungus can be transmitted by wind or water and causes diseases such as stem rot or leaf spot disease. In agriculture the fungus causes an economic damage reaching billions of Euros.Since 2008 an international team of scientists has been involved in the project. Throughout the process, genome and transcriptome of Colletotrichum higginsianum have been decoded and analyzed. For the first time in-depth knowledge of the transcriptome has provided information about timing and location of the expression of genes critical to the infection process.The study revealed that the life of the pathogen determines gene features and gene expression. “The high quality of the sequencing has allowed us to obtain these remarkable insights“, tells Dr. Richard O’Connell, Head of the project. These insights are said to be of fundamental importance for future rational plant breeding und the research into finding methods for reducing the effects of this pathogen. “It was a pleasure to work with Richard and the MPI team to produce the data and assemble the C. higginsianum genome. The extensive use of Next Gen sequencing technologies, at that time still early in their development, and only a minimum of the standard Sanger technology made this project a challenge and very rewarding to complete“, states Dr. Christopher Bauser, Senior Scientific Project Specialist of GATC Biotech.The challenge of sequencing has been the broad usage of different DNA preparation methods and sequencing technologies. The raw data have been assembled de novo without comparison to a similar reference genome. GATC Biotech provided data using the Next Gen Sequencing technologies Roche GS FLX and Illumina HiSeq 2000.
Publication: Richard J. O’Connell et al. Lifestyle transitions in plant pathogenic Colletotrichum fungi deciphered by genome and transcriptome analyses.Nature Genetics, 12. August 2012, DOI: 10.1038/ng.2372