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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Decode Major Pathogen of Barley

August 17, 2016

Scientists at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Edinburgh Genomics facility, and Rothamsted Research have sequenced and explored the genome of Ramularia collo-cygni, the pathogenic fungus causing Ramularia leaf spot in barley.

R. collo-cygni lives between the cells of barley plants without causing symptoms for many weeks. It becomes aggressive and secretes toxins when conditions change inside the plant. The mechanism behind this has been unknown, but the new study identified a large number of genes involved in secreting potentially toxic chemicals and proteins.

The genome also supports current ideas about how the fungus evolved. The scientists confirmed the classification of the fungus within the same group as other plant pathogens, and as a close relative of Zymoseptoria tritici, the cause of Septoria tritici (leaf) blotch in wheat. They found common genes thought to play a role in concealing the fungus from the plant's immune system.

For more details, read the news release at Rothamsted Research website.