The fungal genome initiative and lessons learned from genome sequencing.
The sequence of Saccharomyces cerevisiae enabled systematic genome-wide experimental approaches, demonstrating the power of having the complete genome of an organism. The rapid impact of these methods on research in yeast mobilized an effort to expand genomic resources for other fungi. The "fungal genome initiative" represents an organized genome sequencing effort to promote comparative and evolutionary studies across the fungal kingdom. Through such an approach, scientists can not only better understand specific organisms but also illuminate the shared and unique aspects of fungal biology that underlie the importance of fungi in biomedical research, health, food production, and industry. To date, assembled genomes for over 100 fungi are available in public databases, and many more sequencing projects are underway. Here, we discuss both examples of findings from comparative analysis of fungal sequences, with a specific emphasis on yeast genomes, and on the analytical approaches taken to mine fungal genomes. New sequencing methods are accelerating comparative studies of fungi by reducing the cost and difficulty of sequencing. This has driven more common use of sequencing applications, such as to study genome-wide variation in populations or to deeply profile RNA transcripts. These and further technological innovations will continue to be piloted in yeasts and other fungi, and will expand the applications of sequencing to study fungal biology.
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