History of the Fungal Genome Initiative

In November 2000, Dr. Gerry Fink invited a small group of fungal geneticists and biologists to discuss ways to accelerate the slow pace of fungal genome sequencing. Participants included academic and industrial fungal scientists as well as those with experience in genome sequencing and analysis.

The group strongly agreed that the dearth of publicly available fungal genome sequence was a major barrier to biomedical research. A broad initiative was conceived in which organisms would not be selected one at a time but would be considered as part of a cohesive strategy. The primary selection criteria endorsed were:

  • Importance of the organism in human health and commercial activities.
  • Value of the organism as a tool for studies of fungal diversity and comparative genomics.
  • Presence of genetic resources and an established research community.

To provide advice and oversight of a sustained effort, a Steering Committee was organized, consisting of:
       Gerry Fink, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Steering Committee, Chair
       Ron Morris, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School*
       Ralph Dean, North Carolina State University; Fungal Genetics Policy Committee, Chair
       Peter Hecht, Microbia, Inc.
       Joe Heitman, Duke University
       Matthew Sachs, Oregon Health and Science University
       John Taylor, University of California, Berkeley
       Mary Anne Nelson, University of New Mexico
       Bruce Birren, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

       *Dr. Morris resigned from the FGI Steering Committee shortly after his retirement in April 2003.
       We are grateful for all his contributions to the FGI.

The fungal sequencing candidates are nominated by any interested party and are reviewed by the FGI steering committee for selection as sequence targets. Because the FGI is envisioned as an ongoing program, we welcome suggestions for additional fungal sequencing targets. You can submit your suggestions on-line using the FGI Candidate Submission Form or send your comment to fgi_comment@broad.mit.edu To date, the FGI Steering Committee has received over 100 nominations.

In February 2002, the first White paper developed by the Fungal Genome Initiative organization was submitted to the National Human Genome Research Institute to be reviewed to determine priority for genome sequencing. Of the original 15 fungal species, seven were declared to be High Priority organisms for sequencing.

In June 2003, the FGI prepared its second White paper containing a list of 44 sequencing targets. Recognizing the power of comparative approaches clarified by recent yeast whole genome comparisons, this new selection has an emphasis on 10 major clusters of related species.

In an October 10, 2003 FGI White Paper seven fungal species were proposed to be sequenced. This group of fungi was selected to allow the comparative analysis of pathogenesis and annotation of functional sequence elements in a model filamentous fungus. All seven received approval for sequencing.

In July 2004, a fourth FGI white paper was submitted proposing four additional fungi for sequencing.

Please visit our Status page to check on the sequencing progress regarding on-going fungal sequencing projects at the Broad Institute.