Functional Characterization of Pathogenicity Factors in Phytophthora
Parasitism is an evolutionary strategy
that has independently arisen innumerable times in the history of life.
Exactly how eukaryotes transition from free-living to parasitic modes of
nutrient acquisition are largely mysterious. Clues for understanding
this fundamental life history change are, however, present in the
genomes of parasites. Oomycetes are ideal for elucidating the
consequences of this fundamental shift in life history because the
phylum includes clusters of closely related free-living and pathogenic
species with different life history and infection strategies, and
radically different hosts. Thus, direct comparisons can be made between
closely-related free-living and pathogenic species, with the differences
attributable to the evolutionary pathway that each has taken since their
divergence. We seek students interested in delving into
comparative genomics to contribute to a research project with broad
implications for the evolution of pathogenic lifestyles.