Welcome to MelampsoraDB, the Melampsora Larici-populina database Version 1.0.
The poplar leaf rust fungus Melampsora is the most devastating and widespread pathogen of poplars, and has limited the use of poplars for environmental and wood production goals in many parts of the world. All known poplar cultivars are susceptible to M. larici-populina, and new virulent strains are continuously developing. This disease therefore has a strong potential impact on current and future poplar plantations used for production of forest products (principally pulp and consolidated wood products), carbon sequestration, biofuels production, and bioremediation. There is a pressing need to develop a thorough understanding of the Melampsora species that are poplar pathogens so that new control approaches can be established.
Besides its commercial importance, Melampsora shares a long coevolutionary history with Populus, with a constant interplay of resistance and pathogenicity. An improved understanding of the defense mechanism in poplar leaves may help to reduce the damage in plantations of the economically important poplar species and provide basic insights on the evolutionary biology of host-pathogen interactions.
To elucidate the genetic basis of the Melampsora-Populus interaction, we have sequenced the hundred million base-pair genome of the diploid incompatible strain 98AG31 to high draft using a whole genome shotgun method. This is the first tree obligate biotroph fungus genome to be sequenced.
Finally, the comparison of the genomes of mutualistic (Laccaria bicolor) and pathogenic (M. larici-populina) basidiomycetes interacting with Populus will provide insights into virulence/symbiosis mechanisms and into differences in evolutionary processes developed by the different types of biotrophic fungi.