Dutch elm disease genome completed
Researchers from Canada’s Toronto University have completed sequencing the 31.5 Mb genome of the pathogen that causes Dutch elm disease. The fungus, Ophiostoma ulmi, is a moderately virulent pathogen that spreads through xylem vessels eliciting a defence response that blocks sap flow, causing dieback and eventually killing the tree. O ulmi is closely related to the much more virulent pathogen, O novo-ulmi, that has devastated elm populations in Europe and North America. Apart from its role as a phytopathogen, O ulmi is also of interest for industrial use as it produces enzymes that are particularly efficient in transforming amylose in the production of bioplastics, the researchers point out. Sequence data will also aid the characterisation of key components in the O ulmi protein extracts used in the production of thermoplastics.