Comparative genomics platform on Fungal Pathobiology

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description (abstract)

Fungi associated with plants and forest trees play fundamental roles in the health of cultivated crops and boreal forests, influencing their vitality and productivity. Many of these fungi cause diseases to plants and forest trees while others prevent disease or enhance plant growth. Some fungi produce toxins dangerous to humans and domestic animals or spoil products in storage, while others (saprotrophs) cause problems by decaying construction wood and causing dry rot to buildings. However, fungi are also necessary as saprophytes for decaying organic matter and mineralization of nutrients and play a central role in carbon cycling in nature. At the other extreme are beneficial symbiotic endophytic and mycorrhizal fungi which play important and economically significant roles in the nutrition, growth and health of herbaceous plants and forest trees, and play a role in nutrient cycling. Mycorrhizal, pathogenic and saprotrophic fungi share some common features but differ in the distinct ways in which the different types of interaction are induced and regulated. Given this trail of diversity, comparisons at genomic and gene expression levels between the three contrasting plant-fungus situations will help to forward our understanding of key elements in the interactions and the evolution of the various forms. Systematic approaches for identifying biological functions or functional groupings are therefore needed for a better understanding of evolution to parasitism, mutualism and saprophytic life styles. The present proposal is therefore unique in that not much has been done on a similar and comparative scale for fungi. Equally, the information to be obtained from such studies may be applicable not only for the understanding of the evolution of various fungal forms but also in the control of plant diseases as well as animal and human diseases since some of the pathogens are similar. These investigations will increase the understanding as well as facilitate the discovery of genes controlling important traits in fungi and how they are regulated by the different interaction combinations, and will help to elucidate the molecular basis of ecological adaptation of a diverse range of fungal species. In these times of increasing wealth of fungal genomes sequences becoming available, the key for maximal usage of data is in advanced methods of bioinformatics. Therefore, this proposal aims to develop a strong platform of theoretical expertise in fungal pathogenomics which will facilitate research and educational goals and also utilize and transform the knowledge for development of novel solutions and applications for agriculture, forestry and bioindustry. The objective of this programme is to establish a platform for Comparative Fungal Pathobiology. The project combines two large areas of research which includes Comparative Fungal Genomics (CFG) and Comparative Pathobiology (CP).
Effective start/end date01/10/201030/09/2015

Fields of Science

  • 4111 Agronomy
  • 4112 Forestry