Career: An Online Global Monograph Of Magnaporthales - Evolution, Taxonomy, Biogeography And Biology Of The Rice Blast Fungus And Allies

Project Details


Magnaporthales, an order of fungi with over 200 species, contains important pathogens of cereals and grasses, including the rice blast fungus. The rice blast fungus is the most destructive disease of rice, which is a staple food source for about half of the world's human population. Despite their scientific and economic importance, Magnaporthales fungi have not been studied comprehensively, and the diversity, taxonomy and evolutionary relationships of Magnaporthales species remain unsettled. There is no consensus on which scientific name to use for these important pathogens, and this impedes communication among scientists, animal and plant health inspection services, and other user communities around the world. Recent major changes in the international naming system for fungi have added to the confusion of names and distributions for these fungi. This project will generate molecular data and evolutionary analyses for the understudied species that will be presented in a comprehensive monograph on the Magnaporthales, which will available online to researchers and the broader user communities worldwide at no cost. This research will facilitate future work on Magnaporthales systematics, genetics, biodiversity, plant protection and quarantine feasibility.The major objectives of this project are: 1) to sample from the understudied grassland ecosystems, and to discover, diagnose and describe new taxa in Magnaporthales using both traditional culture-based and next-generation metagenomic sequencing methods; 2) to build a robust phylogenomic tree for all Magnaporthales taxa; 3) to use the phylogeny in improving our understanding of the evolution of pathogenicity and other traits of Magnaporthales fungi; 4) to produce a global monograph of Magnaporthales; and 5) to train students and postdocs to conduct research across the entire spectrum of these activities. The project includes studies of phylogenomics, evolution, taxonomy, biodiversity, organismal biology and metagenomics. The global monograph of Magnaporthales will include: traditional morphological descriptions, diagnostic illustrations, distribution maps, host-range information, interactive identification keys to genera and species, as well as DNA barcodes. Genomic sequences for the representative taxa also will be linked to the cyber-enabled monograph. The PI will engage high school, undergraduate and graduate students, and a postdoctoral fellow, with a focus on teaching and training of underrepresented minorities.
Effective start/end date8/15/157/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (NSF)

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