A plant pathology perspective of fungal genome sequencing
CITATION: Aylward, J., et al. 2017. A plant pathology perspective of fungal genome sequencing. IMA Fungus, 8(1):1-45, doi:10.5598/imafungus.2017.08.01.01.
The original publication is available at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ima/imafung
The majority of plant pathogens are fungi and many of these adversely affect food security. This minireview aims to provide an analysis of the plant pathogenic fungi for which genome sequences are publically available, to assess their general genome characteristics, and to consider how genomics has impacted plant pathology. A list of sequenced fungal species was assembled, the taxonomy of all species verified, and the potential reason for sequencing each of the species considered. The genomes of 1090 fungal species are currently (October 2016) in the public domain and this number is rapidly rising. Pathogenic species comprised the largest category (35.5 %) and, amongst these, plant pathogens are predominant. Of the 191 plant pathogenic fungal species with available genomes, 61.3 % cause diseases on food crops, more than half of which are staple crops. The genomes of plant pathogens are slightly larger than those of other fungal species sequenced to date and they contain fewer coding sequences in relation to their genome size. Both of these factors can be attributed to the expansion of repeat elements. Sequenced genomes of plant pathogens provide blueprints from which potential virulence factors were identified and from which genes associated with different pathogenic strategies could be predicted. Genome sequences have also made it possible to evaluate adaptability of pathogen genomes and genomic regions that experience selection pressures. Some genomic patterns, however, remain poorly understood and plant pathogen genomes alone are not sufficient to unravel complex pathogen-host interactions. Genomes, therefore, cannot replace experimental studies that can be complex and tedious. Ultimately, the most promising application lies in using fungal plant pathogen genomics to inform disease management and risk assessment strategies. This will ultimately minimize the risks of future disease outbreaks and assist in preparation for emerging pathogen outbreaks.