Dollar spot, caused by the fungus Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, is the most economically important disease of cultivated turfgrasses worldwide. In collaboration with the Turfgrass Pathology lab at N.C. State (formerly led by Dr. Lane Tredway) and Drs. Mike Boehm and Tom Mitchell at The Ohio State University, we seek to understand the basic biology of S. homoeocarpa at: i) the genomic level by identifying pathogenicity mechanisms; and ii) the population level by characterizing global population structure.
To support these goals, we sequenced the genome of a Sclerotinia homoeocarpa isolate obtained from creeping bentgrass and the transcriptome of this isolate grown under various conditions. These libraries have been assembled and are available to project participants online. In addition, we have assembled a collection of over 4,000 S. homoeocarpa isolates that were obtained from cool- and warm-season turfgrass hosts in most turf-growing regions of the world. Currently, these data are being used to characterize the mating type genes of the fungus, mine microsatellite markers for inference of population genetic structure, support studies on the genetic mechanisms of fungicide resistance, and identify genes involved in pathogenicity of S. homoeocarpa.
Other project goals include genome and transcriptome annotation, followed by comparative analysis with the well-characterized genomes of Botyrtis cinerea and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, two economically important pathogens that are distinct from but closely related to S. homoeocarpa. Desired outcomes of this project include improved tools to manage dollar spot and a better understanding of pathogenicity and host resistance mechanisms in an important group of plant pathogens.