Pathogenicity islands are sets of successive genes in a genome that determine the virulence of a bacterium. In a growing number of studies, bacterial virulence appears to be determined by multiple islands scattered along the genome. This is the case in a family of seven plant pathogens and a human pathogen that, under KdgR regulation, massively secrete enzymes such as pectinases that degrade plant cell wall. Here we show that their multiple pathogenicity islands form together a coherently organized, single “archipelago” at the genome scale. Furthermore, in half of the species, most genes encoding secreted pectinases are expressed from the same DNA strand (transcriptional co-orientation). This genome architecture favors DNA conformations that are conducive to genes spatial co-localization, sometimes complemented by co-orientation. As proteins tend to be synthetized close to their encoding genes in bacteria, we propose that this architecture would favor the efficient funneling of pectinases at convergent points within the cell. The underlying functional hypothesis is that this convergent funneling of the full blend of pectinases constitutes a crucial strategy for successful degradation of the plant cell wall. Altogether, our work provides a new approach to describe and predict, at the genome scale, the full virulence complement.
One major threat to global food security that requires immediate attention, is the increasing incidence of host shift and host expansion in growing number of pathogenic fungi and emergence of new pathogens. The threat is more alarming because, yield quality and quantity improvement efforts are encouraging the cultivation of uniform plants with low genetic diversity that are increasingly susceptible to emerging pathogens. However, the influence of host genome differentiation on pathogen genome differentiation and its contribution to emergence and adaptability is still obscure. Here, we compared genome sequence of 6 isolates of Magnaporthe species obtained from three different host plants. We demonstrated the evolutionary relationship between Magnaporthe species and the influence of host differentiation on pathogens. Phylogenetic analysis showed that evolution of pathogen directly corresponds with host divergence, suggesting that host-pathogen interaction has led to co-evolution. Furthermore, we identified an asymmetric selection pressure on Magnaporthe species. Oryza sativa-infecting isolates showed higher directional selection from host and subsequently tends to lower the genetic diversity in its genome. We concluded that, frequent gene loss or gain, new transposon acquisition and sequence divergence are host adaptability mechanisms for Magnaporthe species, and this coevolution processes is greatly driven by directional selection from host plants.
Background. Magnaporthe oryzae (anamorph Pyricularia oryzae) is the causal agent of blast disease of Poaceae crops and their wild relatives. To understand the genetic mechanisms that drive host specialization of M. oryzae, we carried out whole genome resequencing of four M. oryzae isolates from rice (Oryza sativa), one from foxtail millet (Setaria italica), three from wild foxtail millet S. viridis, and one isolate each from finger millet (Eleusine coracana), wheat (Triticum aestivum) and oat (Avena sativa), in addition to an isolate of a sister species M. grisea, that infects the wild grass Digitaria sanguinalis.
Results. Whole genome sequence comparison confirmed that M. oryzae Oryza and Setaria isolates form a monophyletic and close to another monophyletic group consisting of isolates from Triticum and Avena. This supports previous phylogenetic analysis based on a small number of genes and molecular markers. When comparing the host specific subgroups, 1.2–3.5 % of genes showed presence/absence polymorphisms and 0–6.5 % showed an excess of non-synonymous substitutions. Most of these genes encoded proteins whose functional domains are present in multiple copies in each genome. Therefore, the deleterious effects of these mutations could potentially be compensated by functional redundancy. Unlike the accumulation of nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions, gene loss appeared to be independent of divergence time. Interestingly, the loss and gain of genes in pathogens from the Oryza and Setaria infecting lineages occurred more frequently when compared to those infecting Triticum and Avena even though the genetic distance between Oryza and Setaria lineages was smaller than that between Triticum and Avena lineages. In addition, genes showing gain/loss and nucleotide polymorphisms are linked to transposable elements highlighting the relationship between genome position and gene evolution in this pathogen species.
Conclusion. Our comparative genomics analyses of host-specific M. oryzae isolates revealed gain and loss of genes as a major evolutionary mechanism driving specialization to Oryza and Setaria. Transposable elements appear to facilitate gene evolution possibly by enhancing chromosomal rearrangements and other forms of genetic variation.
Background. Downy mildews are the most speciose group of oomycetes and affect crops of great economic importance. So far, there is only a single deeply-sequenced downy mildew genome available, from Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. Further genomic resources for downy mildews are required to study their evolution, including pathogenicity effector proteins, such as RxLR effectors. Plasmopara halstedii is a devastating pathogen of sunflower and a potential pathosystem model to study downy mildews, as several Avr-genes and R-genes have been predicted and unlike Arabidopsis downy mildew, large quantities of almost contamination-free material can be obtained easily.
Results. Here a high-quality draft genome of Plasmopara halstedii is reported and analysed with respect to various aspects, including genome organisation, secondary metabolism, effector proteins and comparative genomics with other sequenced oomycetes. Interestingly, the present analyses revealed further variation of the RxLR motif, suggesting an important role of the conservation of the dEER-motif. Orthology analyses revealed the conservation of 28 RxLR-like core effectors among Phytophthora species. Only six putative RxLR-like effectors were shared by the two sequenced downy mildews, highlighting the fast and largely independent evolution of two of the three major downy mildew lineages. This is seemingly supported by phylogenomic results, in which downy mildews did not appear to be monophyletic.
Conclusions. The genome resource will be useful for developing markers for monitoring the pathogen population and might provide the basis for new approaches to fight Phytophthora and downy mildew pathogens by targeting core pathogenicity effectors.
Development of resistant crops is the most effective way to control plant diseases to safeguard food and feed production. Disease resistance is commonly based on resistance genes, which generally mediate the recognition of small proteins secreted by invading pathogens. These proteins secreted by pathogens are called ‘avirulence’ proteins. Their identification is important for being able to assess the usefulness and durability of resistance genes in agricultural settings.
We have used genome sequencing of a set of strains of the melon wilt fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis (Fom), bioinformatics-based genome comparison and genetic transformation of the fungus to identify AVRFOM2, the gene that encodes the avirulence protein recognized by the melon Fom-2 gene.
Both an unbiased and a candidate gene approach identified a single candidate for the AVRFOM2 gene. Genetic complementation of AVRFOM2 in three different race 2 isolates resulted in resistance of Fom-2-harbouring melon cultivars. AvrFom2 is a small, secreted protein with two cysteine residues and weak similarity to secreted proteins of other fungi.
The identification of AVRFOM2 will not only be helpful to select melon cultivars to avoid melon Fusarium wilt, but also to monitor how quickly a Fom population can adapt to deployment of Fom-2-containing cultivars in the field.
The oomycete Phytophthora infestans was the causal agent of the Irish Great Famine and is a recurring threat to global food security. The pathogen can reproduce both sexually and asexually and has a potential to adapt both abiotic and biotic environment. Although in many regions the A1 and A2 mating types coexist, the far majority of isolates belong to few clonal, asexual lineages. As other oomycetes, P. infestans is thought to be diploid during the vegetative phase of its life cycle, but it was observed that trisomy correlated with virulence and mating type locus and that polyploidy can occur in some isolates. It remains unknown about the frequency of polyploidy occurrence in nature and the relationship between ploidy level and sexuality. Here we discovered that the sexuality of P. infestans isolates correlates with ploidy by comparison of microsatellite fingerprinting, genome-wide polymorphism, DNA quantity, and chromosome numbers. The sexual progeny of P. infestans in nature are diploid, whereas the asexual lineages are mostly triploids, including successful clonal lineages US-1 and 13_A2. This study reveals polyploidization as an extra evolutionary risk to this notorious plant destroyer.
Peronospora tabacina is an obligate biotrophic oomycete that causes blue mold or downy mildew on tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). It is an economically important disease occurring frequently in tobacco growing regions worldwide. We have sequenced and characterized the genomes of two P. tabacina isolates and mined them for pathogenicity related proteins and effector encoding genes. De novo assembly of the genomes using Illumina reads resulted in 4,016 (63.1 Mb, N50 = 79 kb) and 3,245 (55.3 Mb, N50 = 61 kb) scaffolds for isolates 968-J2 and 968-S26 respectively, with an estimated genome size of 68 Mb. The mitochondrial genome has a similar size (~43 kb) and structure to those of other oomycetes, plus several minor unique features. Repetitive elements, primarily retrotransposons, make up ~24% of the nuclear genome. Approximately 18 K protein coding gene models were predicted. Mining the secretome revealed ~120 candidate RxLR, ~6 CRN and ~61 WY-domain containing proteins. Candidate RxLR effectors were shown to be predominantly undergoing diversifying selection, with ~57% located in variable gene-sparse regions of the genome. Aligning the P. tabacina genome to Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis and Phytophthora spp. revealed a high level of synteny. Blocks of synteny show gene inversions and instances of expansion in intergenic regions. Extensive rearrangements of the gene-rich genomic regions do not appear to have occurred during the evolution of these highly variable pathogens. These assemblies provide the basis for studies of virulence in this and other downy mildew pathogens.
Fungi and oomycetes include deep and diverse lineages of eukaryotic plant pathogens. The last 10 years have seen the sequencing of the genomes of a multitude of species of these so-called filamentous plant pathogens. Already, fundamental concepts have emerged. Filamentous plant pathogen genomes tend to harbor large repertoires of genes encoding virulence effectors that modulate host plant processes. Effector genes are not randomly distributed across the genomes but tend to be associated with compartments enriched in repetitive sequences and transposable elements. These findings have led to the “two-speed genome” model in which filamentous pathogen genomes have a bipartite architecture with gene sparse, repeat rich compartments serving as a cradle for adaptive evolution. Here, we review this concept and discuss how plant pathogens are great model systems to study evolutionary adaptations at multiple time scales. We will also introduce the next phase of research on this topic.
Medicago truncatula is a model legume species used to investigate plant-microorganism interactions, notably root symbioses. Massive population genomic and transcriptomic data now available for this species open the way for a comprehensive investigation of genomic variations associated with adaptation of M. truncatula to its environment. Here we performed a fine-scale genome scan of selective sweep signatures in Medicago truncatula using more than 15 million SNPs identified on 283 accessions from two populations (Circum and Far West), and exploited annotation and published transcriptomic data to identify biological processes associated with molecular adaptation. We identified 58 swept genomic regions with a 15 kb average length and comprising 3.3 gene models on average. The unimodal sweep state probability distribution in these regions enabled us to focus on the best single candidate gene per region. We detected two unambiguous species-wide selective sweeps, one of which appears to underlie morphological adaptation. Population genomic analyses of the remaining 56 sweep signatures indicate that sweeps identified in the Far West population are less population-specific and probably more ancient than those identified in the Circum population. Functional annotation revealed a predominance of immunity-related adaptations in the Circum population. Transcriptomic data from accessions of the Far West population allowed inference of four clusters of co-regulated genes putatively involved in the adaptive control of symbiotic carbon flow and nodule senescence, as well as in other root adaptations upon infection with soil microorganisms. We demonstrate that molecular adaptations in Medicago truncatula were primarily triggered by selective pressures from root-associated micro-organisms.
MPMI has played a leading role in disseminating new insights into plant-microbe interactions and promoting new approaches. Articles in this Focus Issue highlight the power of genomic studies in uncovering novel determinants of plant interactions with microbial symbionts (good), pathogens (bad), and complex microbial communities (unknown). Many articles also illustrate how genomics can support translational research by quickly advancing our knowledge of important microbes that have not been widely studied.
Click on Next Article or Table of Contents above to view the articles in this Focus Issue. (From the mobile site, go to the MPMI March 2015 issue.)
How generalist parasites with wide host ranges can evolve is a central question in parasite evolution. Albugo candida is an obligate biotrophic parasite that consists of many physiological races that each specialize on distinct Brassicaceae host species. By analyzing genome sequence assemblies of five isolates, we show they represent three races that are genetically diverged by ~1%. Despite this divergence, their genomes are mosaic-like, with ~25% being introgressed from other races. Sequential infection experiments show that infection by adapted races enables subsequent infection of hosts by normally non-infecting races. This facilitates introgression and the exchange of effector repertoires, and may enable the evolution of novel races that can undergo clonal population expansion on new hosts. We discuss recent studies on hybridization in other eukaryotes such as yeast, Heliconius butterflies, Darwin's finches, sunflowers and cichlid fishes, and the implications of introgression for pathogen evolution in an agro-ecological environment.
Members of the genus Xanthomonas are among the most important phytopathogens. A key feature of Xanthomonas pathogenesis is the translocation of type III secretion system (T3SS) effector proteins (T3SEs) into the plant target cells via a T3SS. Several T3SEs and a murein lytic transglycosylase gene (mlt, required for citrus canker symptoms) are found associated with three transposition-related genes in Xanthomonas citri plasmid pXAC64. These are flanked by short inverted repeats (IRs). The region was identified as a transposon, TnXax1, with typical Tn3 family features, including a transposase and two recombination genes. Two 14-bp palindromic sequences within a 193-bp potential resolution site occur between the recombination genes. Additional derivatives carrying different T3SEs and other passenger genes occur in different Xanthomonas species. The T3SEs include transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs). Certain TALEs are flanked by the same IRs as found in TnXax1 to form mobile insertion cassettes (MICs), suggesting that they may be transmitted horizontally. A significant number of MICs carrying other passenger genes (including a number of TALE genes) were also identified, flanked by the same TnXax1 IRs and delimited by 5-bp target site duplications. We conclude that a large fraction of T3SEs, including individual TALEs and potential pathogenicity determinants, have spread by transposition and that TnXax1, which exhibits all of the essential characteristics of a functional transposon, may be involved in driving MIC transposition. We also propose that TALE genes may diversify by fork slippage during the replicative Tn3 family transposition. These mechanisms may play a crucial role in the emergence of Xanthomonas pathogenicity.
Three members of the Puccini genus, P. triticina (Pt), P. striiformis f.sp. tritici (Pst), and P. graminis f.sp. tritici (Pgt), cause the most common and often most significant foliar diseases of wheat. While similar in biology and life cycle, each species is uniquely adapted and specialized. The genomes of Pt and Pst were sequenced and compared to that of Pgt to identify common and distinguishing gene content, to determine gene variation among wheat rust pathogens, other rust fungi and basidiomycetes, and to identify genes of significance for infection. Pt had the largest genome of the three, estimated at 135 Mb with expansion due to mobile elements and repeats encompassing 50.9% of contig bases; by comparison repeats occupy 31.5% for Pst and 36.5% for Pgt. We find all three genomes are highly heterozygous, with Pst (5.97 SNPs/kb) nearly twice the level detected in Pt (2.57 SNPs/kb) and that previously reported for Pgt. Of 1,358 predicted effectors in Pt, 784 were found expressed across diverse life cycle stages including the sexual stage. Comparison to related fungi highlighted the expansion of gene families involved in transcriptional regulation and nucleotide binding, protein modification, and carbohydrate enzyme degradation. Two allelic homeodomain, HD1 and HD2, pairs and three pheromone receptor (STE3) mating-type genes were identified in each dikaryotic Pucciniaspecies. The HD proteins were active in a heterologous Ustilago maydis mating assay and host induced gene silencing of the HD and STE3 alleles reduced wheat host infection.
Background. Understanding how plants and pathogens modulate gene expression during the host-pathogen interaction is key to uncovering the molecular mechanisms that regulate disease progression. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have provided new opportunities to decode the complexity of such interactions. In this study, we used an RNA-based sequencing approach (RNA-seq) to assess the global expression profiles of the wheat yellow rust pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST) and its host during infection.
Results. We performed a detailed RNA-seq time-course for a susceptible and a resistant wheat host infected with PST. This study (i) defined the global gene expression profiles for PST and its wheat host, (ii) substantially improved the gene models for PST, (iii) evaluated the utility of several programmes for quantification of global gene expression for PST and wheat, and (iv) identified clusters of differentially expressed genes in the host and pathogen. By focusing on components of the defence response in susceptible and resistant hosts, we were able to visualise the effect of PST infection on the expression of various defence components and host immune receptors.
Conclusions. Our data showed sequential, temporally coordinated activation and suppression of expression of a suite of immune-response regulators that varied between compatible and incompatible interactions. These findings provide the framework for a better understanding of how PST causes disease and support the idea that PST can suppress the expression of defence components in wheat to successfully colonize a susceptible host.
Background - The protist Plasmodiophora brassicae is a soil-borne pathogen of cruciferous species and the causal agent of clubroot disease of Brassicas including agriculturally important crops such as canola/rapeseed (Brassica napus). P. brassicae has remained an enigmatic plant pathogen and is a rare example of an obligate biotroph that resides entirely inside the host plant cell. The pathogen is the cause of severe yield losses and can render infested fields unsuitable for Brassica crop growth due to the persistence of resting spores in the soil for up to 20 years.
Results - To provide insight into the biology of the pathogen and its interaction with its primary host B. napus, we produced a draft genome of P. brassicae pathotypes 3 and 6 (Pb3 and Pb6) that differ in their host range. Pb3 is highly virulent on B. napus (but also infects other Brassica species) while Pb6 infects only vegetable Brassica crops. Both the Pb3 and Pb6 genomes are highly compact, each with a total size of 24.2 Mb, and contain less than 2 % repetitive DNA. Clustering of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) of Pb3, Pb6 and three additional re-sequenced pathotypes (Pb2, Pb5 and Pb8) shows a high degree of correlation of cluster grouping with host range. The Pb3 genome features significant reduction of intergenic space with multiple examples of overlapping untranslated regions (UTRs). Dependency on the host for essential nutrients is evident from the loss of genes for the biosynthesis of thiamine and some amino acids and the presence of a wide range of transport proteins, including some unique to P. brassicae. The annotated genes of Pb3 include those with a potential role in the regulation of the plant growth hormones cytokinin and auxin. The expression profile of Pb3 genes, including putative effectors, during infection and their potential role in manipulation of host defence is discussed.
Conclusion - The P. brassicae genome sequence reveals a compact genome, a dependency of the pathogen on its host for some essential nutrients and a potential role in the regulation of host plant cytokinin and auxin. Genome annotation supported by RNA sequencing reveals significant reduction in intergenic space which, in addition to low repeat content, has likely contributed to the P. brassicae compact genome.
Asian soybean rust (ASR) caused by the obligate biotrophic fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi can cause losses greater than 80%. Despite its economic importance, there is no soybean cultivar with durable ASR resistance (Goellner et al., 2010). In addition, the P. pachyrhizi genome is not yet available. However, the availability of other rust genomes as well as the development of sample enrichment strategies and bioinformatics tools has improved our knowledge of the ASR secretome and its potential effectors. The authors used a combination of laser capture microdissection (LCM), RNAseq and a bioinformatics pipeline to identify a total of 36,350 P. pachyrhizi contigs expressed in planta and a predicted secretome of 851 proteins.
The application of DNA sequencing technology to the study of ancient DNA has enabled the reconstruction of past epidemics from genomes of historically important plant-associated microbes. Recently, the genome sequences of the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans were analyzed from 19th century herbarium specimens. These herbarium samples originated from infected potatoes collected during and after the Irish potato famine. Herbaria have therefore great potential to help elucidate past epidemics of crops, date the emergence of pathogens, and inform about past pathogen population dynamics. DNA preservation in herbarium samples was unexpectedly good, raising the possibility of a whole new research area in plant and microbial genomics. However, the recovered DNA can be extremely fragmented resulting in specific challenges in reconstructing genome sequences. Here we review some of the challenges in computational analyses of ancient DNA from herbarium samples. We also applied the recently developed linkage method to haplotype reconstruction of diploid or polyploid genomes from fragmented ancient DNA.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have increased the scalability, speed, and resolution of genomic sequencing and, thus, have revolutionized genomic studies. However, eukaryotic genome sequencing initiatives typically yield considerably fragmented genome assemblies. Here, we assessed various state-of-the-art sequencing and assembly strategies in order to produce a contiguous and complete eukaryotic genome assembly, focusing on the filamentous fungus Verticillium dahliae. Compared with Illumina-based assemblies of the V. dahliae genome, hybrid assemblies that also include PacBio-generated long reads establish superior contiguity. Intriguingly, provided that sufficient sequence depth is reached, assemblies solely based on PacBio reads outperform hybrid assemblies and even result in fully assembled chromosomes. Furthermore, the addition of optical map data allowed us to produce a gapless and complete V. dahliae genome assembly of the expected eight chromosomes from telomere to telomere. Consequently, we can now study genomic regions that were previously not assembled or poorly assembled, including regions that are populated by repetitive sequences, such as transposons, allowing us to fully appreciate an organism’s biological complexity. Our data show that a combination of PacBio-generated long reads and optical mapping can be used to generate complete and gapless assemblies of fungal genomes.
IMPORTANCE Studying whole-genome sequences has become an important aspect of biological research. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has nowadays brought genomic science within reach of most research laboratories, including those that study nonmodel organisms. However, most genome sequencing initiatives typically yield (highly) fragmented genome assemblies. Nevertheless, considerable relevant information related to genome structure and evolution is likely hidden in those nonassembled regions. Here, we investigated a diverse set of strategies to obtain gapless genome assemblies, using the genome of a typical ascomycete fungus as the template. Eventually, we were able to show that a combination of PacBio-generated long reads and optical mapping yields a gapless telomere-to-telomere genome assembly, allowing in-depth genome analyses to facilitate functional studies into an organism’s biology.
The speciation of pathogens can be driven by divergent host specialization. Specialization to a new host is possible via the acquisition of advantageous mutations fixed by positive selection. Comparative genome analyses of closely related species allows for the identification of such key substitutions via inference of genome-wide signatures of positive selection. We previously used a comparative genomics framework to identify genes that have evolved under positive selection during speciation of the prominent wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici (synonym Mycosphaerella graminicola). In this study, we conducted functional analyses of four genes exhibiting strong signatures of positive selection in Z. tritici. We deleted the four genes in Z. tritici and confirm a virulence-related role of three of the four genes ΔZt80707, ΔZt89160 and ΔZt103264. The two mutants ΔZt80707 and ΔZt103264 show a significant reduction in virulence during infection of wheat; the ΔZt89160 mutant causes a hypervirulent phenotype in wheat. Mutant phenotypes of ΔZt80707, ΔZt89160 and ΔZt103264 can be restored by insertion of the wild-type genes. However, the insertion of the Zt80707 and Zt89160 orthologs from Z. pseudotritici and Z. ardabiliae do not restore wild-type levels of virulence, suggesting that positively selected substitutions in Z. tritici may relate to divergent host specialization. Interestingly, the gene Zt80707 encodes also a secretion signal that targets the protein for cell secretion. This secretion signal is however only transcribed in Z. tritici, suggesting that Z. tritici-specific substitutions relate to a new function of the protein in the extracellular space of the wheat-Z. tritici interaction. Together, the results presented here highlight that Zt80707, Zt103264 and Zt89160 represent key genes involved in virulence and host-specific disease development of Z. tritici. Our findings illustrate that evolutionary predictions provide a powerful tool for the identification of novel traits crucial for host adaptation and pathogen evolution.
In 2013, in response to an epidemic of ash dieback disease in England the previous year, we launched a Facebook-based game called Fraxinus to enable non-scientists to contribute to genomics studies of the pathogen that causes the disease and the ash trees that are devastated by it. Over a period of 51 weeks players were able to match computational alignments of genetic sequences in 78% of cases, and to improve them in 15% of cases. We also found that most players were only transiently interested in the game, and that the majority of the work done was performed by a small group of dedicated players. Based on our experiences we have built a linear model for the length of time that contributors are likely to donate to a crowd-sourced citizen science project. This model could serve a guide for the design and implementation of future crowd-sourced citizen science initiatives. - See more at: http://elifesciences.org/content/4/e07460#.dpuf
Background. The genus Microbotryum includes plant pathogenic fungi afflicting a wide variety of hosts with anther smut disease. Microbotryum lychnidis-dioicae infects Silene latifolia and replaces host pollen with fungal spores, exhibiting biotrophy and necrosis associated with altering plant development.
Results. We determined the haploid genome sequence for M. lychnidis-dioicae and analyzed whole transcriptome data from plant infections and other stages of the fungal lifecycle, revealing the inventory and expression level of genes that facilitate pathogenic growth. Compared to related fungi, an expanded number of major facilitator superfamily transporters and secretory lipases were detected; lipase gene expression was found to be altered by exposure to lipid compounds, which signaled a switch to dikaryotic, pathogenic growth. In addition, while enzymes to digest cellulose, xylan, xyloglucan, and highly substituted forms of pectin were absent, along with depletion of peroxidases and superoxide dismutases that protect the fungus from oxidative stress, the repertoire of glycosyltransferases and of enzymes that could manipulate host development has expanded. A total of 14 % of the genome was categorized as repetitive sequences. Transposable elements have accumulated in mating-type chromosomal regions and were also associated across the genome with gene clusters of small secreted proteins, which may mediate host interactions.
Conclusions. The unique absence of enzyme classes for plant cell wall degradation and maintenance of enzymes that break down components of pollen tubes and flowers provides a striking example of biotrophic host adaptation.
Host resistance is the most economical, effective and ecologically sustainable method of controlling diseases in crop plants. In bread wheat, despite the high number of resistance loci that have been cataloged to date, only few have been cloned, underlying the need for genomics-guided investigations capable of providing a prompt and acute knowledge on the identity of effective resistance genes that can be used in breeding programs. Proteins with a nucleotide-binding site (NBS) encoded by the major plant disease resistance (R) genes play an important role in the responses of plants to various pathogens. In this study, a comprehensive analysis of NBS-encoding genes within the whole wheat genome was performed, and the genome scale characterization of this gene family was established. From the recently published wheat genome sequence, we used a data mining and automatic prediction pipeline to identify 580 complete ORF candidate NBS-encoding genes and 1,099 partial-ORF ones. Among complete gene models, 464 were longer than 200 aa, among them 436 had less than 70 % of sequence identity to each other. This gene models set was deeply characterized. (1) First, we have analyzed domain architecture and identified, in addition to typical domain combinations, the presence of particular domains like signal peptides, zinc fingers, kinases, heavy-metal-associated and WRKY DNA-binding domains. (2) Functional and expression annotation via homology searches in protein and transcript databases, based on sufficient criteria, enabled identifying similar proteins for 60 % of the studied gene models and expression evidence for 13 % of them. (3) Shared orthologous groups were defined using NBS-domain proteins of rice and Brachypodium distachyon. (4) Finally, alignment of the 436 NBS-containing gene models to the full set of scaffolds from the IWGSC’s wheat chromosome survey sequence enabled high-stringence anchoring to chromosome arms. The distribution of the R genes was found balanced on the three wheat sub-genomes. In contrast, at chromosome scale, 50 % of members of this gene family were localized on 6 of the 21 wheat chromosomes and ~22 % of them were localized on homeologous group 7. The results of this study provide a detailed analysis of the largest family of plant disease resistance genes in allohexaploid wheat. Some structural traits reported had not been previously identified and the genome-derived data were confronted with those stored in databases outlining the functional specialization of members of this family. The large reservoir of NBS-type genes presented and discussed will, firstly, form an important framework for marker-assisted improvement of resistance in wheat, and, secondly, open up new perspectives for a better understanding of the evolution dynamics of this gene family in grass species and in polyploid systems.
Field pathogenomics adds highly informative data to surveillance surveys by enabling rapid evaluation of pathogen variability, population structure and host genotype.
Yellow rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST), is a major disease of wheat and, together with stem rust (Puccinia graminis) and leaf rust (Puccinia triticina), causes some of the most devastating epidemics on wheat worldwide . Control of these rust pathogens relies predominantly on breeding and deployment of resistant varieties of wheat. To date, nearly 200 wheat-rust-resistance genes have been catalogued ; however, resistance has often proved to be ephemeral owing to changes in the pathogen population. In order to increase the durability of resistance, gene-deployment strategies need to consider extant and potential pathogen variability. Although these concepts are not new , their implementation was difficult until the advent of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and genotyping technologies.
Next-generation sequencing technologies provide new opportunities to study pathogens and the hosts they infect. The increasing availability of crop and pathogen genomes  is providing new insights into pathogen biology, population structure and pathogenesis. This provides new opportunities for disease management. An important input into resistance breeding programs should be surveillance of the pathogen population. High-throughput pathogenomics offers the possibility for analyzing a large number of pathogen isolates and host varieties rapidly and at low cost.
In an article published in Genome Biology, Hubbard and colleagues  implemented a robust and rapid method to screen field isolates of PST and their host cultivars. In this particular version of pathogenomics, a selected set of 39 samples of infected wheat and triticale leaf tissue were collected directly from the field in 2013 and analyzed using RNAseq. In addition, the genomes of 21 archived PST isolates from the UK and France were also sequenced. Transcriptome analysis restricted the amount of sequence necessary to obtain diagnostic information for both host and pathogen; this not only accelerated genetic analysis of PST populations in situ but also allowed simultaneous assessment of the host genotype in the same sequencing runs. Another advantage of transcriptome analysis is that it detects genes being expressed and therefore the determinants of the interaction; thus, non-expressed genes present in the genome do not obscure genotype-phenotype correlations.
Background Emerging and re-emerging pathogens imperil public health and global food security. Responding to these threats requires improved surveillance and diagnostic systems. Despite their potential, genomic tools have not been readily applied to emerging or re-emerging plant pathogens such as the wheat yellow (stripe) rust pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST). This is due largely to the obligate parasitic nature of PST, as culturing PST isolates for DNA extraction remains slow and tedious. Results To counteract the limitations associated with culturing PST, we developed and applied a field pathogenomics approach by transcriptome sequencing infected wheat leaves collected from the field in 2013. This enabled us to rapidly gain insights into this emerging pathogen population. We found that the PST population across the United Kingdom, UK, underwent a major shift in recent years. Population genetic structure analyses revealed four distinct lineages that correlated to the phenotypic groups determined through traditional pathology-based virulence assays. Furthermore, the genetic diversity between members of a single population cluster for all 2013 PST field samples was much higher than that displayed by historical UK isolates, revealing a more-diverse population of PST. Conclusions Our field pathogenomics approach uncovered a dramatic shift in the PST population in the UK, likely due to a recent introduction of a diverse set of exotic PST lineages. The methodology described herein accelerates genetic analysis of pathogen populations and circumvents the difficulties associated with obligate plant pathogens. In principle, this strategy can be widely applied to a variety of plant pathogens.
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