Fusarium graminearum is an ascomycete fungus that causes head blight in wheat and ear rot in corn. Crop damage in the United States over the last decade due to this fungus is estimated at several billion dollars, making it a significant plant pathogen. Additionally, F. graminearum produces mycotoxins known to be hazardous to humans and livestock.
The Fusarium genus, which includes two other species closely related to F. graminearum, has been the target of a comparative genomics project by the Broad Institute because it includes plant pathogens that cause disease in almost every economically important crop. Fusarium species are difficult to combat because of their worldwide distribution, persistence in the soil, and genetic plasticity, which allows them to evolve quickly in the face of resistant cultivars.
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