An international team of scientists has published the first two genome sequences from a plant pathogen called Phytophthora. Phytophthora sp cause disease in various crops such as soybean, cocoa, potato, papaya and other crops, and cost the agricultural industry billions of dollars in losses annually.
The researchers found the pathogens have nearly twice as many genes as other fungal pathogens, and that more than 40 percent of the genes in each of the two species are undergoing rapid change. Many of the rapidly evolving genes encode toxins and other proteins that may debilitate plants.
Phytophthora has remained resistant to most fungicides and scientists are hoping that these genome sequences will help them understand plant-microbe relationships and their roles in pathogenesis, and ultimately lead to development of improved pest control strategies.