Metabolic architecture of the wheat pathogen Stagonospora nodorum
Stagonospora nodorum SN15 is a filamentous ascomycete that is a major pathogen of wheat and related cereals. The sexual stage is important in the field and the teleomorph is called Phaeosphaeria nodorum. S. nodorum causes major losses in wheat crops. In Australia, losses of $57M pa are considered typical. Almost all these losses are concentrated in the Western Australian wheat belt. It is a major pathogen in most other wheat growing regions. In some areas, such as parts of eastern, it renders wheat an uneconomic crop.
Stagonospora is a member of the Dothideomycetes, a class of fungi that includes many important plant pathogens such as Leptosphaeria, Ascochyta, Pyrenophora, Cochliobolus, Alternaria and Mycosphaerella. It is the first Dothideomycete genome sequence to be publicly released.
We are reconstructing the metabolic pathways of S. nodorum to identify the biochemical capabilities of the pathogen. By integrating the biochemical architecture with gene expression and metabolomics data during infection we can identify key metabolic enzymes involved in pathogenicity. Metabolic reconstruction requires sophisticated bioinformatics tools such as the Pathway Tools software. This allows us to reconstruct organism specific metabolic databases from metabolites, proteins, enzymatic activities and generating metabolic maps.