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JGI Unlocks Genome of Oak, Soy Pathogens

NEW YORK, June 10 (GenomeWeb News) - The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute announced today that it has sequenced the genome of Phytophthora ramorum, the organism responsible for Sudden Oak Death, as well as its cousin, Phytophthora sojae, which is responsible for soybean disease.

 

The work was announced at an event held today in partnership with the California Oak Mortality Task Force at JGI's Walnut Creek Production Genomics Facility. Experts close to the project held a discussion panel about the implications of the work following the announcement.

 

Jeff Boore, head of the evolutionary genomics department at JGI, told GenomeWeb News that the DNA sequence information will enable more sensitive and effective field detection systems and treatments for the pathogens. For instance, he noted the work of JGI scientist Sharon Doyle, who with funding from the US Department of Agriculture is investigating which P. ramorum genes produce detectable protein products that would signify infection before a tree dies.

 

Boore also said that researchers will likely use the sequence to identify protein or pathway targets for treatment. He added that JGI plans to publish the sequences, along with detailed analyses, later this year.

 

Sudden Oak Death is of particular local concern, as it has spread through 13 Californiacounties, hitting hardest in Marin, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Sonomacounties, JGI said. The pathogen has also been detected at 125 nurseries across the nation. P. sojae causes an estimated $1 billion in soybean crop losses a year, Boore said.

 

JGI unifies genomics programs at three academic and government laboratories: Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley, and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

 

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