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Genetic tools for the study of light and circadian processes in microbial plant pathogens

Lance Cadle-Davidson: USDA Grape Genetics Research Unit

<div>With increased biological understanding of how hosts and pathogens sense and respond to light, genetic tools are needed to characterize the fundamental biology as well as to develop novel light-based strategies for disease management. These genetic tools, however, are not one size fits all, given the diversity of pathosystems studied and the diversity of applications considered. Here, as case studies, several approaches we have applied to powdery mildews will be discussed. These began with RNA-Seq and comparative genomic analysis to identify candidate genes. Population genetic analysis of AmpSeq data and population genomic analyses enabled the characterization of gene conservation, which could help predict evolutionary responses to light-based disease management. Mutants and other genetic resources on the host side help to untangle direct versus indirect (via the host) pathogen responses to light. Finally, without being able to axenically culture or stably transform the pathogen, functional studies in heterologous hosts may provide insights into the biological function of candidate genes, with the caveat that a gene may have different phenotypes in different genetic backgrounds. These and other genetic approaches may provide additional strategies for or improved implementation of light-based disease management.</div>

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