Previously incorrectly identified as eggs, the ‘orange goo’ floating off the shore of a small Alaskan village has now been identified as a rust fungus.
If they had known that a hoard of Mycologists were descending on Alaska for our annual meeting! I guess the exact identification is still being determined by NOAA labs – hope they can PCR ITS up and figure it out (and maybe save a culture for deposition somewhere).
(Thanks to Blake Billmyre for passing along the story)
From Francis Martin
The DNA sequence of Melampsora larici-populina has been determined by the U.S. Department of Energy DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI). Annotations of the v1.0 assembly of Melampsora laricis-populina are publicly available at http://www.jgi.doe.gov/Melampsora.
Genome analyses have been carried out by an international consortium comprised of DOE JGI, France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research (F Martin et al., INRA-Nancy), Canadian Forest Service (R Hamelin et al., Laurentian Forestry Centre), and the Bioinformatics & Evolutionary Genomics Division (Rouzé et al., Gent University) in Belgium.
The poplar leaf rust fungus Melampsora is the most devastating and widespread pathogen of poplars, and has limited the use of poplars for environmental and wood production goals in many parts of the world. All known poplar cultivars are susceptible to Melampsora species, and new virulent strains are continuously developing. This disease therefore has a strong potential impact on current and future poplar plantations used for production of forest products (principally pulp and consolidated wood products), carbon sequestration, biofuels production, and bioremediation.
Hyphoid logic points out that it is appropriate to discuss about the oomycete Phytophthora infestans on St. Patrick’s Day and mentions a NYT article “The fungus that conquered Europe” that is worth a look.
It is also worth thinking about another blight, well rust, that is spreading through the middle east and could threaten wheat crops worldwide. New Scientist has excellent coverage of Puccinia graminis strain Ug99 which is spreading faster than expected due to a cyclone that spread the rust spores into Iran two years earlier than expected.
Related posts from last year. “Fungus could cause a food shortage”, “Puccinia black stem rust disease spreading”
Several more fungi are on the docket for sequencing at JGI through their community sequencing program. This includes
This complements an ever growing list of fungal genome sequences which is probably topping 80+ now not including the several dozen strains of Saccharomyces that are being sequenced at Sanger Centre and a separately funded NIH project to be sequenced at WashU.
A while back, Jason blogged briefly on a New Scientists article about the rise of a new Puccinia graminis strain, Ug99, that is spreading through West African wheat fields at an enormous rates. It looks like this story is growing in the scientific conciousness, as Science is now running an article on the spread of this wheat pandemic.
The article has a nice bit of background regarding the rise of the disease. It seems that it is spreading so quickly for due to its relatively broad host range compared to other strains. While scientists have been working to derive resistant wheat varieties, Puccinia has successfully foiled their recent attempts by mutating to acheive resistance to the plant expressed Sr24.
To boot, this strain has been found in Yemen, allowing its spores to hitch a ride along the winds that blow north along the Indian Ocean, putting much of the global bread basket at risk (I imagine that the last thing the middle east needs right now is a wheat shortage). The last time a rust spread through this area, it caused 1 billion dollars in damage. Given the extensive host range of this variety, experts predict that damages will exceede at least three times this amount.
Fortunately, researchers in Ethiopian have derived two wheat strains that may be resistant to Ug99. However, it can take several years to get these wheat strains in the ground and, ultimately, no one is certain that Ug99 won’t cleverly find a way to adapt resistance. We should keep our ears to the rail on this one: it could be a big problem.
The New Scientist has an article about the spread of black stem rust caused by Puccinia graminis. We briefly mentioned the 1st release of a Puccinia genome in January. Some more links about the spread of the Ug99 virulent strain.
Continue reading Puccinia black stem rust disease spreading
The FGI and the Broad Institute have released the 7X genome assembly of Puccinia graminis f. sp tritici in roughly 4500 contigs. This represents the first rust fungus to be sequenced and the second Urediniomycete that has been sequenced, Sporobolomyces roseus being the first. This rust fungus is “the causal agent of stem rust, has caused serious disease of small cereal grains (wheat, barley, oat, and rye) worldwide.”