(Photo: Francisco Sautua and Marcelo Carmona were involved in the sequencing of the fungus genome)

Buenos Aires, October 30th. A scientific team integrated by members of the Biotechnology Institute of the INTA (National Agriculture Research Institute) and the Agronomy Colleague from the Buenos Aires University (FAUBA) sequenced the genome of the fungus Cercospora kikuchii, the agent that causes the diseases named soybean leaf blight and the purple seed stain.

“We were able to determine that the genome of the C. Kikuchii has 31.1 million pairs of bases and we were able to predict 14,721 genes that codify proteins. This genomic information, added to the soybean germplasm one, speeds up the path to a better comprehension about the molecular mechanisms which control interactions between the plant and the fungus”, professor Francisco Sautua said, who worked alongside Sergio Gonzales (INTA) in the project, which was supervised by Marcelo Carmona (FAUBA), Máximo Rivarola (INTA) and Paula Fernández (INTA).

The scientists said that this advance will permit the developing of better germplasm with more resistance to the fungus, but also the development of new fungicides.

“This disease affects both seeds, leaves, stems, and pods, reducing both the number and the weight of the grains. In the central region of the Pampas is very common to see plants affected in the leaves or in the seeds. This disease showed a fast expansion during the last years, both in the area and in intensity”, the scientists explained in a press release. The research was funded by the INTA, Buenos Aires University and the chemical and seed company BASF.

According to Mr. Carmona, today, the management measures most used to prevent the disease is to plant healthy seeds or treated seeds, the crop rotation, the use of soybean varieties with a superior health profile and chemical control with fungicides. “But both farmers and technicians are viewing that in the last years the chemicals are losing efficiency or lost the complete control of the fungus. The mutation of the strains of the Cercospora is the reason that explains why chemicals are losing its control power”, Carmona said.

The professional thinks that the genome sequencing of the fungus will permit to improve the sanitary profile of the new varieties but, at the same time, to develop fungicides with new action modes.