Bangladeshi scientists decode genome of deadly fungus

Open-up window to stop 30 percent yield loss in jute

                                             Dr Maqsudul Alam 

Bangladeshi researchers have successfully decoded the genome of a most deadly fungus that cause havoc in global jute and soybean productions.

Macrophomina phaseolina – the fungus – also causes seedling blight, root rot, and charcoal rot of more than 500 crop and non-crop species.

Experts said the gene sequencing of macrophomina phaseolina would particularly help Bangladeshi scientists to develop jute varieties capable of fighting the fungus that cause 30 percent annual yield loss (worth about half a billion USD) in the country’s precious natural fibre.

Jute is the second largest fibre crop in terms of cultivation next to cotton. Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest producer of jute, after India, and the world’s largest exporter of the fibre.

Bangladesh’s most internationally acclaimed geneticist Dr Maqsudul Alam led a 17-strong team since early 2011 to successfully decode the deadly fungus. The decoding has been done at a recently developed homegrown lab facilities at Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI).

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement of Bangladesh’s scientific achievement in the parliament on Wednesday amid cheers and desk thumping by lawmakers.

Dr Alam and his team’s success in fungus genome came just two years after he had decoded the jute genome. Maqsudul Alam earlier decoded the genome of papaya in the US and rubber plant in Malaysia.

Source: The Daily Star

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