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  • Rapid Evolutionary Adaptation of the Barley Powdery Mildew, Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei

Rapid Evolutionary Adaptation of the Barley Powdery Mildew, Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei

Presented by Dr Stefan Kusch, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Date: 22 November 2019
Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Venue: Toowoomba - P20, or via Zoom
Contact: For more information, please contact the Centre for Crop Health.
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Powdery mildew is an important disease of cereals wherever these crops are grown. The disease is caused by an obligate biotrophic fungus, Blumeria graminis. Different strains of this crop pathogen exhibit strict host specificity; however, they rapidly overcome plant resistance and are able to extend their host ranges quickly. Our genome assembly of the barley powdery mildew fungus revealed an inflated genome with ~74% transposable elements (= invasive DNA), and only ~7100 coding genes. We hypothesize that still-active transposable elements are the drivers of rapid evolution in this fungus.
We conducted experimental evolution with a strain of the barley powdery mildew fungus by exposing it to the fully resistant barley mlo mutant, and isolated three lines that were virulent on this barley genotype. Our results showed that this rapid adaptation can be attributed to the rapid loss of two genes, possibly driven by transposable elements.