Basidiomycete genomes galore

Just finished attending Genetics and Cell Biology of Basidiomycetes in Cape Girardeau, MO which was an intimate gathering of basidiomycetaphiles.  I learned about systems that are used for studying fruiting body development, genetic mapping, pheromone and mating genes, kinesin dynamics, meoitic gene regulation, and a host of topics.  I’m happy I got a chance to meet more folks in the community and learned about where informatics and computational approaches are really needed to push along some of the interpretation of the more than a dozen basidiomycete genomes.  In particular it sounds like the PleurotusSchizophyllum, Agaricus bisporus, and Serpula genomes are all marching along to completion with some already in 4X assembly or further.  

GCBBVI Group Picture

So we’ll further have more samples from of key model and some less-model species to assist researchers working on many different mushroom-forming fungi that range from brown and white-rotting saprophyte fungi to mycorrhizal fungi that associate with plants.    I’m excited about the work to make transformation and knockouts more readily in these systems too to push the genetics and cellular biology of these systems even further.  The genome sequences will be another tool in these endeavors.

The last day ended with a discussion about genome annotation and future support for curating gene models.  Basically everyone is unhappy with computational predictions and want to be able to go in and fix things. (I think people remember the ones that are gotten wrong more readily than the ones that were right, but computational prediction definitely performs poorly in some situations).   In this Web 2.0-land we live in, this is still not something easily done with any of the freely available genome browsing tools. The JGI’s browser was lauded for its ability to handle these kinds of requests, but how do we proceed when genomes are not sequenced by that center or when (not too distant future) communities are able to sequence a genome themselves using 454/Illumina-Solexa/Helicos/Pacific Biosystems approaches in their own lab?  There is still a huge lag in what kinds of tools researchers can use to annotate genomes to fix gene models and add functions.  Hopefully projects like GMOD will continue to develop useful tools for solving these needs, but there is certainly a need for better support of distributed community annotation of genomes where this little direct money for supporting curators from a single place.