Ash dieback is a fungal disease of ash trees caused by Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus that has swept across Europe in the last two decades and is a significant threat to the ash population. This emergent pathogen has been relatively poorly studied and little is known about its genetic make-up. In response to the arrival of this dangerous pathogen in the UK we took the unusual step of providing an open access database and initial sequence datasets to the scientific community for analysis prior to performing an analysis of our own. Our goal was to crowdsource genomic and other analyses and create a community analysing this pathogen. In this report on the evolution of the community and data and analysis obtained in the first year of this activity, we describe the nature and the volume of the contributions and reveal some preliminary insights into the genome and biology of H. pseudoalbidus that emerged. In particular our nascent community generated a first-pass genome assembly containing abundant collapsed AT-rich repeats indicating a typically complex genome structure. Our open science and crowdsourcing effort has brought a wealth of new knowledge about this emergent pathogen within a short time-frame. Our community endeavour highlights the positive impact that open, collaborative approaches can have on fast, responsive modern science.
Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL