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PLoS Genet. 2016 Aug 11;12(8):e1005876. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005876. eCollection 2016 Aug.

Combating a Global Threat to a Clonal Crop: Banana Black Sigatoka Pathogen Pseudocercospora fijiensis (Synonym Mycosphaerella fijiensis) Genomes Reveal Clues for Disease Control.

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Escuela de Biociencias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín, Colombia.
Plant Biotechnology Unit, Corporación Para Investigaciones Biológicas, Medellín, Colombia.
Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, United States of America.
US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, California, United States of America.
CIRAD, UMR BGPI, Montpellier, France.
USDA-Agricultural Research Service, West Lafayette, Indiana, United States of America.
Syngenta Biotechnology Inc., Research Triangle Park, United States of America.
National Center for Genome Resources, Santa Fe, United States of America.
Embrapa Mandioca e Fruticultura, Cruz das Almas, BA, Brazil.
University of Lavras, Lavras, Brazil.
National Banana Corporation of Costa Rica (CORBANA), La Rita de Pococí, Limón, Costa Rica.
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, Québec, QC, Canada.
Department of Genetics, Seed and Plant Improvement Institute, Karaj, Iran.
General Bioinformatics at Syngenta Crop protection Jeallots Hill International Research Centre, Bracknell Berkshire, United Kingdom.
Syngenta Crop Protection, Münchwilen AG, Stein, Switzerland.
Embrapa-LABEX Europe, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
Wageningen University, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
CBS-KNAW Fungal Diversity Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Black Sigatoka or black leaf streak disease, caused by the Dothideomycete fungus Pseudocercospora fijiensis (previously: Mycosphaerella fijiensis), is the most significant foliar disease of banana worldwide. Due to the lack of effective host resistance, management of this disease requires frequent fungicide applications, which greatly increase the economic and environmental costs to produce banana. Weekly applications in most banana plantations lead to rapid evolution of fungicide-resistant strains within populations causing disease-control failures throughout the world. Given its extremely high economic importance, two strains of P. fijiensis were sequenced and assembled with the aid of a new genetic linkage map. The 74-Mb genome of P. fijiensis is massively expanded by LTR retrotransposons, making it the largest genome within the Dothideomycetes. Melting-curve assays suggest that the genomes of two closely related members of the Sigatoka disease complex, P. eumusae and P. musae, also are expanded. Electrophoretic karyotyping and analyses of molecular markers in P. fijiensis field populations showed chromosome-length polymorphisms and high genetic diversity. Genetic differentiation was also detected using neutral markers, suggesting strong selection with limited gene flow at the studied geographic scale. Frequencies of fungicide resistance in fungicide-treated plantations were much higher than those in untreated wild-type P. fijiensis populations. A homologue of the Cladosporium fulvum Avr4 effector, PfAvr4, was identified in the P. fijiensis genome. Infiltration of the purified PfAVR4 protein into leaves of the resistant banana variety Calcutta 4 resulted in a hypersensitive-like response. This result suggests that Calcutta 4 could carry an unknown resistance gene recognizing PfAVR4. Besides adding to our understanding of the overall Dothideomycete genome structures, the P. fijiensis genome will aid in developing fungicide treatment schedules to combat this pathogen and in improving the efficiency of banana breeding programs.

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