In the most recent issue (Sept. 19) BMC Genomics 2012, 13:493) Maqsudul Alam and 14 of his associates mostly at BJRI published an article entitled, “Tools to kill: Genome of one of the most destructive plant pathogenic fungi Macrophomina phaseolina unraveled the base sequence of
this extremely harmful pathogen affecting some 500 crop and non-crop species. The team sequenced 92.83% of the M. phaseolina genome. They determined 14,249 open reading frames (ORFs) of which 9,934 were validated by the transcriptome. Their study revealed that this destructive pathogen has an abundance of a) secreted oxidases, 2) peroxidases, and 3) hydrolytic enzymes responsible for degrading cell wall polysaccharides and lignocelluloses assisting them to penetrate into the host tissue. Compared to all sequenced ascomycete species M. phaseolina encodes a significant number of P450s, MFS type membrane transporters, glycosidases, transposases, and a number of secondary metabolite to overcome the host plant defense response. The team discovered a strikingly distinct set of carbohydrate esterases (CE) in this pathogen. Their phenotypic microarray data suggest that M. phaseolina can adapt to a wide range of osmotic and pH environments. As a broad host range pathogen, M. phaseolina possesses a large number of pathogen-host interaction genes including those for adhesion, signal transduction, cell wall breakdown, purine biosynthesis, and potent mycotoxin patulin. The results further suggest that this pathogen uses a diverse armory of enzymatic and toxin tools to destroy the host plants. Further understanding of the mechanism adopted by M. phaseolina genome will pave the way in “designing rational strategies for disease control, essential to ensuring global agricultural crop production and security. ” Please click here to access the article.