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Genome Sequenced for Pesky Pumpkin Pathogen

Rikky Rai waters pumpkin plants in a University of Illinois greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Montgomery Flack.
Pumpkin growers dread the tiny tan scabs that form on their fruit, each lesion a telltale sign of bacterial spot disease. The specks don’t just mar the fruit’s flesh, they provide entry points for rot-inducing fungus and other pathogens that can destroy pumpkins and other cucurbits from the inside out. Either way, farmers pay the price, with marketable yields reduced by as much as 90 percent.

Despite the disease’s severity, scientists don’t know much about the genetics of the pathogen that causes it; nearly all the molecular information required for accurate diagnostic testing and targeted treatments is lacking for the disease.

In a new study, University of Illinois scientists, with the help of two undergraduate students, have assembled the first complete genome for the bacteria that causes the disease, Xanthomonas cucurbitae, and identified genes that are activated during infection. This research was supported with USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Hatch funds. For more information, read the University of Illinois ACES News article.


 
Farm Bill Priority Areas
Plant health, production, and products
U.S. States and Territories
Illinois
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