Project Info

What is Verticillium sp?

Verticillium dahliae is the primary causal agent of Verticillium wilts that cause billions of dollars in annual losses worldwide. This soil-borne fungal pathogen exhibits extraordinary genetic plasticity and is able to rapidly adapt to a broad range of hosts in diverse ecological niches. Control of Verticillium wilt is particularly difficult. One factor that has hindered progress in developing new control strategies for Verticillium wilt is our limited understanding of the biology and ecology of V. dahliae and other soil-borne pathogens. V. alfalfae, another widespread and well-studied phytopathogenic Verticillium species, is closely related to V. dahliae, but has a very different host range and distinct phenotypes with respect to its pathogenicity. We will apply comparative genomics to study the molecular mechanisms that underlie the differences in pathogenicity, differentiation, and host-adapted virulence in these two Verticillium spp.

This comparative project is supported by the National Research Initiative, which is within the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) through the USDA/National Science Foundation Microbial Genome Sequencing Project.

Project Information

The specific objectives are to:

  • Generate genomic resources for two important soil-borne fungal pathogens: Verticillium dahliae and Verticillium alfalfae. These include: a 7X V. dahliae genome assembly integrated with optical maps; a 4X V. alfalfae genome assembly; the results of automated annotation for both assemblies; and 20,000 EST sequence from two V. dahliae cDNA libraries.
  • Conduct comparative analysis to: improve gene annotation for both V. dahliae and V. alfalfae; identify SNPs and structural changes between these two Verticillium species; create a set of conserved genes among soil-borne fungal wilt pathogens; and characterize sets of species-specific and fast-evolving genes.

Because of its significance as a pathogen, its utility as a model soil-borne pathogen, and its interaction with a broad range of hosts, information created through this project will be highly valuable to large research community. The application of comparative genomics to this group of carefully selected organisms to address well defined questions will provide a greater understanding of pathogenicity, virulence in soil-borne pathogens to enable new methods for improving disease detection and management in agricultural practices, and ultimately to develop alternative control strategies.

Verticillium comparative manuscript supplementary files

Please visit the Verticillium comparative manuscript supplementary files page for data files.