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January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Plant Pathology

PI: H. Corby Kistler

Functional Genomics of Fusarium graminearum

Fusarium head blight or scab caused by Fusarium graminearum is a destructive disease of wheat and barley. Infested cereals are reduced in yield and contaminated with harmful mycotoxins. In the past decade, the disease has resulted in billions of dollars of economic loss to United States agriculture. Better understanding of F. graminearum pathogenesis and differentiation is critical because effective fungicides and highly resistant plant varieties are not available for controlling the disease. This group’s goals are to identify and characterize genes important for plant infection and colonization, secondary metabolism, and sexual development of F. graminearum using microarray analyses and targeted mutation of selected genes.

Objectives of this research include: to utilize the available sequence information to develop a whole genome microarray of F. graminearum; to analyze gene expression profiles of F. graminearum in different infection and colonization stages, in mutants defective in plant infection or toxin production, and in different developmental stages; and to experimentally determine the biological functions of selected candidate genes identified in microarray experiments. Overall, this research will develop and utilize functional genomic resources and/or approaches to identify genes important for F. graminearum pathogenicity, development, and secondary metabolism. Results from these experiments will be helpful for understanding molecular mechanisms of fungal-plant interactions in scab disease development, and may ultimately lead to the development of more effective fungicides or disease-control strategies.

Group Members

Andy Breakspear, Research Associate
Liane Gale, Research Associate
Samuel Gale, Staff
Rubella Goswami, Graduate Student
Karen Hilburn, Staff
Erik Lysoe, Research Associate
Jon R. Menke, Graduate Student
Matias Pasquali, Research Associate
Kye-Yong Seong, Research Associate