Asian soybean rust has a devastating impact on soybean, an internationally important crop with 346 million tonnes produced globally. Now an international research collaboration has successfully assembled the complete genome sequence of Phakopsora pachyrhizi ; a critical step in addressing the threat of this genetically-complex and highly-adaptive fungus.
In conditions favourable to its spread, the rust can destroy up to 90% of the soybean harvest. The largest producer of the soybean is Brazil, where the combined cost of losses and disease control measures is US $2 billion per season.
The new dataset comprises the genome sequence of three isolates (K8108, MG2006 & PPUFV02) of which one has been assembled at chromosome level detail (PPUFV02). These three genomes will be hosted by the Joint Genome Institute and will be made available over the coming weeks.
Phakopsora pachyrhizi has a highly complex genome, it is 60 times bigger than the yeast genome, composed of 93% repetitive elements and possesses two nuclei. This complexity has delayed progress on the sequencing of this pathogen, and meant that high-end, next‐generation sequencing technologies were required to complete the task.
“Asian soybean rust is a critical challenge for soybean growers,” said Dr. Peter van Esse, leader of the 2Blades Group at The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, one of the collaborators.
“A chromosome level genome assembly allows the scientific community to study, in unprecedented resolution, components of the pathogen that are critical for causing disease. This is a critical first step towards the design of transformative control strategies to combat this highly damaging pathogen.”
The three soybean rust genomes will be hosted by the Joint Genome Institute and are available here – https://mycocosm.jgi.doe.gov/Phapa1