Anne Nakamoto L&S Sciences
Investigating the role of transposable elements in fungal plant pathogen genome evolution
Fungal plant pathogens pose a significant threat to biodiversity and food security worldwide. This threat is aggravated by their quickly evolving genomes that adapt to evade host plant defenses––even newly deployed resistant crops are often only effective for a few years in the field. Among these pathogens is Magnaporthe oryzae, which infects rice and many other grasses, resulting in significant crop losses each year. Transposable elements (TEs) are DNA sequences that can change their position within the genome and are thought to generate genomic diversity; thus, they are hypothesized to be involved in the evolution of M. oryzae. However, much is still poorly understood about how these elements shape the M. oryzae genome. My research will ask how TEs play a role in M. oryzae’s adaptation to host plant defenses and expansion of host range by investigating the differences in TE content between various host-specific lineages of M. oryzae. The results of this project will improve our understanding of the M. oryzae genome, aiding in further studies towards developing effective host plant resistance methods.