A major invasion of transposable elements accounts for the large size of the Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici genome

Funct Integr Genomics. 2011 Dec;11(4):671-7. doi: 10.1007/s10142-011-0240-5. Epub 2011 Aug 2.


Powdery mildew of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is caused by the ascomycete fungus Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici. Genomic approaches open new ways to study the biology of this obligate biotrophic pathogen. We started the analysis of the Bg tritici genome with the low-pass sequencing of its genome using the 454 technology and the construction of the first genomic bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library for this fungus. High-coverage contigs were assembled with the 454 reads. They allowed the characterization of 56 transposable elements and the establishment of the Blumeria repeat database. The BAC library contains 12,288 clones with an average insert size of 115 kb, which represents a maximum of 7.5-fold genome coverage. Sequencing of the BAC ends generated 12.6 Mb of random sequence representative of the genome. Analysis of BAC-end sequences revealed a massive invasion of transposable elements accounting for at least 85% of the genome. This explains the unusually large size of this genome which we estimate to be at least 174 Mb, based on a large-scale physical map constructed through the fingerprinting of the BAC library. Our study represents a crucial step in the perspective of the determination and study of the whole Bg tritici genome sequence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascomycota / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Gene Library
  • Genome, Fungal*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA Transposable Elements