In order to get access to the genes of this pathogen, UC researchers – including Professor Jorge Dubcovsky (also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher) and Project Scientist Dario Cantu from the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and Richard Michelmore, director of the UC Davis Genome Center used cutting-edge technology to rapidly sequence a large portion of the genome of one of the Puccinia striiformis more virulent and aggressive races. They assembled long stretches of the Puccinia striiformis genome and established a preliminary automatic annotation of its genes, with a special focus on those likely to be involved in pathogenicity.
To be of the most public benefit, this information is available in the open-access article published by the Public Library of Science and made publically available through the National Center of Biotechnology information and a dedicated web page
"This shotgun sequence assembly does not substitute for the need of a complete and annotated Puccinia striiformis genome, but it provides immediate access to a large proportion, more than about 88 percent, of the genes from this pathogen," said lead author Cantu. "This public information has the potential to accelerate a new wave of studies to determine the mechanisms used by this pathogen to infect wheat, and hopefully to reduce current yield loses caused by this pathogen."
Dubcovsky said the lack of familiarity of publishers with new sequencing strategies was a challenge but there are many benefits. The work will help other researchers because there is now a potential list of effectors to start studying how the rust controls the wheat disease response. He added that the sequencing will also act as a reference for rust diversity studies to identify potential polymorphisms that affect virulence.