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Advanced Genetic Technologies, KY
Department of Plant Pathology
DNA sequencing technologies and associated methods for analyzing DNA sequences have become so advanced and affordable that rapid sequencing of the entire genetic constitution (whole genome sequencing) of microbial species is now routine. Application of whole genome sequencing to parasites and symbionts of plants and animals allows deep insight into their interactions with hosts, and can be used to address productivity and diseases of crops and livestock. Such insights require facile analysis of the very large datasets generated by whole genome sequencing.
This project will use, as a test case, a group of fungi that range from parasitic to beneficial in their interactions with common forage grasses and wild grass relatives. Whole genomes will be sequenced from 14 of these fungi, sets of closely homologous genes will be identified and their sequences will be compared in order to discern the evolutionary relationships of those genes. The results will provide insight into the underlying genetics of plant pathogenesis as well as beneficial symbiosis.
These studies will require streamlining and standardizing computer analysis of the large volume of data obtained by whole genome sequencing. Therefore, a central activity will be to refine computer methods and algorithms for acquisition, collation, management and analysis of these data, thereby greatly enhancing the bioinformatic capabilities at the University of Kentucky.