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Genome Expansion and Gene Loss in Powdery Mildew Fungi Reveal Tradeoffs in Extreme Parasitism

Science  10 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6010, pp. 1543-1546
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194573

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Abstract

Powdery mildews are phytopathogens whose growth and reproduction are entirely dependent on living plant cells. The molecular basis of this life-style, obligate biotrophy, remains unknown. We present the genome analysis of barley powdery mildew, Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Blumeria), as well as a comparison with the analysis of two powdery mildews pathogenic on dicotyledonous plants. These genomes display massive retrotransposon proliferation, genome-size expansion, and gene losses. The missing genes encode enzymes of primary and secondary metabolism, carbohydrate-active enzymes, and transporters, probably reflecting their redundancy in an exclusively biotrophic life-style. Among the 248 candidate effectors of pathogenesis identified in the Blumeria genome, very few (less than 10) define a core set conserved in all three mildews, suggesting that most effectors represent species-specific adaptations.

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