Identification and Analysis of DNA Sequences for Specific Detection of Plant-Infecting Fungi
The main goals of this project are to develop and validate DNA-based techniques to detect specific fungi in plant tissues and to characterize the composition of fungal infection complexes of plants. The focus is on soybean and other legumes grown in Minnesota. Fungal diseases of plants are typically associated with a complex of different fungi in the infected plant tissue. Traditional culture-based isolation methods are limited in their abilities to detect and characterize the organisms in infected plant tissues. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques based on unique DNA sequences offer much potential for dissecting, quantifying, and identifying components of infection complexes. These researchers aim to identify species-specific DNA sequences to be used in standard and quantitative PCR assays to detect, characterize, and quantify fungi in plants. They are also analyzing DNA sequences from selected portions of the genomes of fungi to determine relationships among them and to identify DNA markers associated with phenotypic traits. A long-term goal is to understand the environmental, agronomic, and ecological factors that influence the composition and biological roles of fungi and their complexes in plants and soil.