Phytophthora pathogens are especially difficult to control because they come from an entirely different kingdom of life than most other pathogens and are impervious to most pesticides. Another Phytophthora species, P. infestans, caused the Irish potato famine in the nineteenth century. This project will help researchers understand how Phytophthora operates and how best to inhibit it from infecting crops and forests.
According to Tyler, "Phytophthora pathogens are literally destroyers from a distant kingdom. The genome sequences of these two species will for the first time enable us to identify and target their vulnerabilities in order to control them." Sequences of Phytophthora will further aid scientists in decoding the genomes of diatoms, important marine species. The research activities will also train postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate students in a multidisciplinary, team-oriented environment.
Bruno Sobral from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Jeffrey Boore from the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) will collaborate with Tyler on this project. USDA and NSF funding was provided by those agencies' collaborative Microbial Genome Sequencing Program. DOE funds are from its Office of Biological and Environmental Research.