A variety of techniques are being employed to understand the genetic basis of pathogenicity of filamentous fungi to plants. Virtually all genetic methods are centered on the characterization of individual genes and gene products through the construction of null mutants, gene expression analysis and similar techniques. Identification of candidate genes can be classified into two broad categories: Forward and reverse genetic approaches. Forward genetic screens aim to induce mutations randomly in an organism to identify mutations that produce a phenotype of interest. These methods have been useful in identifying a wide array of gene products that play a role in pathogenesis and are currently used in our Lab.
Colletotrichum graminicola is causal agent of maize (corn) anthracnose disease and is being developed as a model for the study of hemibiotrophic plant pathogens. We are cloning several pathogenicity genes that were identified from a mutant library developed while Michael Thon was a postdoc in the laboratory of Lisa Vaillancourt (University of Kentucky). More information about Colletotrichum graminicola (and the genus Colletotrichum in general) can be found on our maize anthracnose page, as well as at www.colletotrichum.org.