Scientist Maqsudul reveal genome sequence of fungus

Bangladeshi scientists have decoded one of the most devastating fungal genome paving way to protect 30 to 70 percent crops, especially jute, from destroying, and increasing similar quantity of output.

Macrophomina phaseolina is one of the most devastating fungal pathogens to inject jute, soybean, cotton, tobacco, maize, sorghum, and sunflower along with more than 500 species globally.

The fungal can reduce the yield of tossa jute (the golden fiber) and the global economic impact caused by this notorious fungus is more than billion dollars annually.

“It’s a big day for us. We used to take information from the world knowledge hub…but time has come for us to contribute to that,” scientist Prof Maqsudul Alam told reporters at a press conference at Sangsad Bhaban Media Center.

The team members of the success story -- Dr M Samiul Haque, Dr M Kamal Uddin, Dr M Monjurul Alam, Dr M Shahidul Islam and Engineer Msaifur Rahman -- were also present at the press conference.

He said it is a matter of pride that the country can now contribute to the world knowledge-hub.

Replying to a question, Alam said this fungal destroys 30 to 70 percent of jute and other crops. “Since we’ve decoded the genome, it’ll protect 30 to 70 percent crops from destroying. That means, it’ll help add 30 to 70 percent to the production.”

Responding to another question, he said, “I can’t exactly tell you how much time it will take to reach the benefit to the farmers. Minimum five to six years may be required. Have patience. We’ll come back.”

He, however, said they are moving ahead fast and they will not come up with any outcome that will be extremely costly for the farmers.

Barrister Ali Asif Khan said, “It’s our invention. You also have a role to play to protect its right.”

The Basic and applied Research on Jute (BARJ) project team, led by Prof Maqsudul Alam, took this unique challenge and for the first time in the world decoded the genome of this most dangerous fungus.

The Macrophomina phaseolina genome provides a framework of the infection process at the cytological and molecular level which uses a diverse arsenal of enzymatic and toxin tools.

The BARJ team members have developed a robust pipeline to identify the critical proteins that destroy jute and other spices. This will serve in designing rational strategies for disease control, the development of fungus resistant crops, essential to ensure global agricultural crop production and security.

BioMed Central’s open access journal, BMC Genomics, published today this discovery by BARJ.

The team has already applied for these provisional patent applications to secure the Intellectual Property Right from this genome information. This project was funded by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture.

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