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1.  Genome Sequence of Fusarium graminearum Isolate CS3005 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(2):e00227-14.
Fusarium graminearum is one of the most important fungal pathogens of wheat, barley, and maize worldwide. This announcement reports the genome sequence of a highly virulent Australian isolate of this species to supplement the existing genome of the North American F. graminearum isolate Ph1.
PMCID: PMC3990742  PMID: 24744326
2.  Genome Sequences of Six Wheat-Infecting Fusarium Species Isolates 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(5):e00670-13.
Fusarium pathogens represent a major constraint to wheat and barley production worldwide. To facilitate future comparative studies of Fusarium species that are pathogenic to wheat, the genome sequences of four Fusarium pseudograminearum isolates, a single Fusarium acuminatum isolate, and an organism from the Fusarium incarnatum-F. equiseti species complex are reported.
PMCID: PMC3764410  PMID: 24009115
3.  Genome Sequences of Pseudomonas spp. Isolated from Cereal Crops 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(3):e00209-13.
Compared to those of dicot-infecting bacteria, the available genome sequences of bacteria that infect wheat and barley are limited. Herein, we report the draft genome sequences of four pseudomonads originally isolated from these cereals. These genome sequences provide a useful resource for comparative analyses within the genus and for cross-kingdom analyses of plant pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3650443  PMID: 23661484
4.  Genomic Analysis of Xanthomonas translucens Pathogenic on Wheat and Barley Reveals Cross-Kingdom Gene Transfer Events and Diverse Protein Delivery Systems 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84995.
In comparison to dicot-infecting bacteria, only limited numbers of genome sequences are available for monocot-infecting and in particular cereal-infecting bacteria. Herein we report the characterisation and genome sequence of Xanthomonas translucens isolate DAR61454 pathogenic on wheat and barley. Based on phylogenetic analysis of the ATP synthase beta subunit (atpD) gene, DAR61454 is most closely related to other X. translucens strains and the sugarcane- and banana- infecting Xanthomonas strains, but shares a type III secretion system (T3SS) with X. translucens pv. graminis and more distantly related xanthomonads. Assays with an adenylate cyclase reporter protein demonstrate that DAR61454's T3SS is functional in delivering proteins to wheat cells. X. translucens DAR61454 also encodes two type VI secretion systems with one most closely related to those found in some strains of the rice infecting strain X. oryzae pv. oryzae but not other xanthomonads. Comparative analysis of 18 different Xanthomonas isolates revealed 84 proteins unique to cereal (i.e. rice) infecting isolates and the wheat/barley infecting DAR61454. Genes encoding 60 of these proteins are found in gene clusters in the X. translucens DAR61454 genome, suggesting cereal-specific pathogenicity islands. However, none of the cereal pathogen specific proteins were homologous to known Xanthomonas spp. effectors. Comparative analysis outside of the bacterial kingdom revealed a nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase encoding gene in DAR61454 also present in other bacteria as well as a number of pathogenic Fusarium species, suggesting that this gene may have been transmitted horizontally from bacteria to the Fusarium lineage of pathogenic fungi. This example further highlights the importance of horizontal gene acquisition from bacteria in the evolution of fungi.
PMCID: PMC3887016  PMID: 24416331
5.  Diversifying selection in the wheat stem rust fungus acts predominantly on pathogen-associated gene families and reveals candidate effectors 
Plant pathogens cause severe losses to crop plants and threaten global food production. One striking example is the wheat stem rust fungus, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici, which can rapidly evolve new virulent pathotypes in response to resistant host lines. Like several other filamentous fungal and oomycete plant pathogens, its genome features expanded gene families that have been implicated in host-pathogen interactions, possibly encoding effector proteins that interact directly with target host defense proteins. Previous efforts to understand virulence largely relied on the prediction of secreted, small and cysteine-rich proteins as candidate effectors and thus delivered an overwhelming number of candidates. Here, we implement an alternative analysis strategy that uses the signal of adaptive evolution as a line of evidence for effector function, combined with comparative information and expression data. We demonstrate that in planta up-regulated genes that are rapidly evolving are found almost exclusively in pathogen-associated gene families, affirming the impact of host-pathogen co-evolution on genome structure and the adaptive diversification of specialized gene families. In particular, we predict 42 effector candidates that are conserved only across pathogens, induced during infection and rapidly evolving. One of our top candidates has recently been shown to induce genotype-specific hypersensitive cell death in wheat. This shows that comparative genomics incorporating the evolutionary signal of adaptation is powerful for predicting effector candidates for laboratory verification. Our system can be applied to a wide range of pathogens and will give insight into host-pathogen dynamics, ultimately leading to progress in strategies for disease control.
PMCID: PMC4150398  PMID: 25225496
rust; effector; adaptation; avirulence; selection; Puccinia graminis; fungal pathogens
6.  A comparative hidden Markov model analysis pipeline identifies proteins characteristic of cereal-infecting fungi 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:807.
Fungal pathogens cause devastating losses in economically important cereal crops by utilising pathogen proteins to infect host plants. Secreted pathogen proteins are referred to as effectors and have thus far been identified by selecting small, cysteine-rich peptides from the secretome despite increasing evidence that not all effectors share these attributes.
We take advantage of the availability of sequenced fungal genomes and present an unbiased method for finding putative pathogen proteins and secreted effectors in a query genome via comparative hidden Markov model analyses followed by unsupervised protein clustering. Our method returns experimentally validated fungal effectors in Stagonospora nodorum and Fusarium oxysporum as well as the N-terminal Y/F/WxC-motif from the barley powdery mildew pathogen. Application to the cereal pathogen Fusarium graminearum reveals a secreted phosphorylcholine phosphatase that is characteristic of hemibiotrophic and necrotrophic cereal pathogens and shares an ancient selection process with bacterial plant pathogens. Three F. graminearum protein clusters are found with an enriched secretion signal. One of these putative effector clusters contains proteins that share a [SG]-P-C-[KR]-P sequence motif in the N-terminal and show features not commonly associated with fungal effectors. This motif is conserved in secreted pathogenic Fusarium proteins and a prime candidate for functional testing.
Our pipeline has successfully uncovered conservation patterns, putative effectors and motifs of fungal pathogens that would have been overlooked by existing approaches that identify effectors as small, secreted, cysteine-rich peptides. It can be applied to any pathogenic proteome data, such as microbial pathogen data of plants and other organisms.
PMCID: PMC3914424  PMID: 24252298
Fungal pathogens; Comparative genomics; Effectors; Fusarium graminearum; Cereal host; Hidden Markov model; Protein structure
7.  Comparative Pathogenomics Reveals Horizontally Acquired Novel Virulence Genes in Fungi Infecting Cereal Hosts 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(9):e1002952.
Comparative analyses of pathogen genomes provide new insights into how pathogens have evolved common and divergent virulence strategies to invade related plant species. Fusarium crown and root rots are important diseases of wheat and barley world-wide. In Australia, these diseases are primarily caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum. Comparative genomic analyses showed that the F. pseudograminearum genome encodes proteins that are present in other fungal pathogens of cereals but absent in non-cereal pathogens. In some cases, these cereal pathogen specific genes were also found in bacteria associated with plants. Phylogenetic analysis of selected F. pseudograminearum genes supported the hypothesis of horizontal gene transfer into diverse cereal pathogens. Two horizontally acquired genes with no previously known role in fungal pathogenesis were studied functionally via gene knockout methods and shown to significantly affect virulence of F. pseudograminearum on the cereal hosts wheat and barley. Our results indicate using comparative genomics to identify genes specific to pathogens of related hosts reveals novel virulence genes and illustrates the importance of horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of plant infecting fungal pathogens.
Author Summary
Cereals are our most important staple crops and are subject to attack from a diverse range of fungal pathogens. A major goal of molecular plant pathology research is to understand how pathogens infect plants to allow the development of durable plant protection measures. Comparing the genomes of different pathogens of cereals and contrasting them to non-cereal pathogen genomes allows for the identification of genes important for pathogenicity toward these important crops. In this study, we sequenced the genome of the wheat and barley pathogen F. pseudograminearum responsible for crown and root-rot diseases, and compared it to those from a broad range of previously sequenced fungal genomes from cereal and non-cereal pathogens. These analyses revealed that the F. pseudograminearum genome contains a number of genes only found in fungi pathogenic on cereals. Some of these genes appear to have been horizontally acquired from other fungi and, in some cases, from plant associated bacteria. The functions of two of these genes were tested by creating strains that lacked the genes. Both genes had important roles in causing disease on cereals. This work has important implications for our understanding of pathogen specialization during the evolution of fungal pathogens infecting cereal crops.
PMCID: PMC3460631  PMID: 23028337
8.  Comparative genomics reveals mobile pathogenicity chromosomes in Fusarium 
Nature  2010;464(7287):367-373.
Fusarium species are among the most important phytopathogenic and toxigenic fungi. To understand the molecular underpinnings of pathogenicity in the genus Fusarium, we compared the genomes of three phenotypically diverse species: Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici. Our analysis revealed lineage-specific (LS) genomic regions in F. oxysporum that include four entire chromosomes and account for more than one-quarter of the genome. LS regions are rich in transposons and genes with distinct evolutionary profiles but related to pathogenicity, indicative of horizontal acquisition. Experimentally, we demonstrate the transfer of two LS chromosomes between strains of F. oxysporum, converting a non-pathogenic strain into a pathogen. Transfer of LS chromosomes between otherwise genetically isolated strains explains the polyphyletic origin of host specificity and the emergence of new pathogenic lineages in F. oxysporum. These findings put the evolution of fungal pathogenicity into a new perspective.
PMCID: PMC3048781  PMID: 20237561
9.  Early activation of wheat polyamine biosynthesis during Fusarium head blight implicates putrescine as an inducer of trichothecene mycotoxin production 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:289.
The fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum causes Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) disease on wheat which can lead to trichothecene mycotoxin (e.g. deoxynivalenol, DON) contamination of grain, harmful to mammalian health. DON is produced at low levels under standard culture conditions when compared to plant infection but specific polyamines (e.g. putrescine and agmatine) and amino acids (e.g. arginine and ornithine) are potent inducers of DON by F. graminearum in axenic culture. Currently, host factors that promote mycotoxin synthesis during FHB are unknown, but plant derived polyamines could contribute to DON induction in infected heads. However, the temporal and spatial accumulation of polyamines and amino acids in relation to that of DON has not been studied.
Following inoculation of susceptible wheat heads by F. graminearum, DON accumulation was detected at two days after inoculation. The accumulation of putrescine was detected as early as one day following inoculation while arginine and cadaverine were also produced at three and four days post-inoculation. Transcripts of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and arginine decarboxylase (ADC), two key biosynthetic enzymes for putrescine biosynthesis, were also strongly induced in heads at two days after inoculation. These results indicated that elicitation of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway is an early response to FHB. Transcripts for genes encoding enzymes acting upstream in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway as well as those of ODC and ADC, and putrescine levels were also induced in the rachis, a flower organ supporting DON production and an important route for pathogen colonisation during FHB. A survey of 24 wheat genotypes with varying responses to FHB showed putrescine induction is a general response to inoculation and no correlation was observed between the accumulation of putrescine and infection or DON accumulation.
The activation of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway and putrescine in infected heads prior to detectable DON accumulation is consistent with a model where the pathogen exploits the generic host stress response of polyamine synthesis as a cue for production of trichothecene mycotoxins during FHB disease. However, it is likely that this mechanism is complicated by other factors contributing to resistance and susceptibility in diverse wheat genetic backgrounds.
PMCID: PMC3022911  PMID: 21192794
10.  A Zn(II)2Cys6 DNA binding protein regulates the sirodesmin PL biosynthetic gene cluster in Leptosphaeria maculans 
A gene, sirZ, encoding a Zn(II)2Cys6 DNA binding protein is present in a cluster of genes responsible for the biosynthesis of the epipolythiodioxopiperazine (ETP) toxin, sirodesmin PL in the ascomycete plant pathogen, Leptosphaeria maculans. RNA-mediated silencing of sirZ gives rise to transformants that produce only residual amounts of sirodesmin PL and display a decrease in the transcription of several sirodesmin PL biosynthetic genes. This indicates that SirZ is a major regulator of this gene cluster. Proteins similar to SirZ are encoded in the gliotoxin biosynthetic gene cluster of Aspergillus fumigatus (gliZ) and in an ETP-like cluster in Penicillium lilacinoechinulatum (PlgliZ). Despite its high level of sequence similarity to gliZ, PlgliZ is unable to complement the gliotoxin-deficiency of a mutant of gliZ in A. fumigatus. Putative binding sites for these regulatory proteins in the promoters of genes in these clusters were predicted using bioinformatic analysis. These sites are similar to those commonly bound by other proteins with Zn(II)2Cys6 DNA binding domains.
PMCID: PMC2399893  PMID: 18023597
Toxin; Aspergillus; Leptosphaeria; gliotoxin; sirodesmin; ETP; Zn(II)2Cys6
11.  Towards defining the nuclear proteome 
Genome Biology  2008;9(1):R15.
Direct evidence is reported for 2,568 mammalian proteins within the nuclear proteome, consisting of at least 14% of the entire proteome.
The nucleus is a complex cellular organelle and accurately defining its protein content is essential before any systematic characterization can be considered.
We report direct evidence for 2,568 mammalian proteins within the nuclear proteome: the nuclear subcellular localization of 1,529 proteins based on a high-throughput subcellular localization protocol of full-length proteins and an additional 1,039 proteins for which clear experimental evidence is documented in published literature. This is direct evidence that the nuclear proteome consists of at least 14% of the entire proteome. This dataset was used to evaluate computational approaches designed to identify additional nuclear proteins.
This represents direct experimental evidence that the nuclear proteome consists of at least 14% of the entire proteome. This high-quality nuclear proteome dataset was used to evaluate computational approaches designed to identify additional nuclear proteins. Based on this analysis, researchers can determine the stringency and types of lines of evidence they consider to infer the size and complement of the nuclear proteome.
PMCID: PMC2395251  PMID: 18211718
12.  Origin and distribution of epipolythiodioxopiperazine (ETP) gene clusters in filamentous ascomycetes 
Genes responsible for biosynthesis of fungal secondary metabolites are usually tightly clustered in the genome and co-regulated with metabolite production. Epipolythiodioxopiperazines (ETPs) are a class of secondary metabolite toxins produced by disparate ascomycete fungi and implicated in several animal and plant diseases. Gene clusters responsible for their production have previously been defined in only two fungi. Fungal genome sequence data have been surveyed for the presence of putative ETP clusters and cluster data have been generated from several fungal taxa where genome sequences are not available. Phylogenetic analysis of cluster genes has been used to investigate the assembly and heredity of these gene clusters.
Putative ETP gene clusters are present in 14 ascomycete taxa, but absent in numerous other ascomycetes examined. These clusters are discontinuously distributed in ascomycete lineages. Gene content is not absolutely fixed, however, common genes are identified and phylogenies of six of these are separately inferred. In each phylogeny almost all cluster genes form monophyletic clades with non-cluster fungal paralogues being the nearest outgroups. This relatedness of cluster genes suggests that a progenitor ETP gene cluster assembled within an ancestral taxon. Within each of the cluster clades, the cluster genes group together in consistent subclades, however, these relationships do not always reflect the phylogeny of ascomycetes. Micro-synteny of several of the genes within the clusters provides further support for these subclades.
ETP gene clusters appear to have a single origin and have been inherited relatively intact rather than assembling independently in the different ascomycete lineages. This progenitor cluster has given rise to a small number of distinct phylogenetic classes of clusters that are represented in a discontinuous pattern throughout ascomycetes. The disjunct heredity of these clusters is discussed with consideration to multiple instances of independent cluster loss and lateral transfer of gene clusters between lineages.
PMCID: PMC2045112  PMID: 17897469

Results 1-12 (12)