About this Research Topic
It is well-known that both fungi and plants have evolved from a single-celled protist ancestor. Accordingly, fungi and plants both bear certain resemblances in their physiological and biological functions. Detrimental or beneficial fungal-plant interactions, including parasitism, mutualism and saprotrophy, are strategies evolved by both fungi and terrestrial plants, to permit invasion, coexistence and success on land.
Fungi are the most common disease-causing agents in plants and fungal diseases are therefore responsible for major economic losses in agriculture. This is a key concern in combating global food insecurity in a changing climate. Major advances in understanding fungal biology have been obtained following the rise of genomic and post-genomic methodologies. Even though these insights and methodologies may help modern fungal diversity researchers, they ought to complement traditional methodologies (morphological features, host range, geography, pathogenicity, nutrition modes, culture characteristics). Despite the major importance of fungal species in the environment and our lives, the vast majority (>95 %) of fungal diversity remains untapped, and much of the discovered taxa lack formal scientific classification. Growing environmental challenges also place us in a difficult position to fully understand the most important gaps of fungal diversity (e.g. habitat loss and ‘dark taxa’ fungi). Furthermore, climate change is anticipated to have an extensive effect on ecosystems, with direct consequences for the inadequately understood mycota.
Recently developed multiprong approaches using molecular and bioinformatic techniques have greatly expanded our understanding of fungal plant pathogens and their molecular systematics, evolution and coevolution related to host plants. The main goal of this Research Topic is to provide an integrative view of the current state of knowledge about the molecular systematics, genomics and evolution of the fascinating and economically important fungal groups associated with plants in nature. We welcome submissions of Original Research manuscripts, Perspectives, Hypotheses, Reviews, and Methods, covering the following themes that address both the pathogen and host plant during an interaction:
• Molecular systematics of fungal plant pathogens
• Population and comparative genomics of fungal plant pathogens
• Newly emerging fungal plant pathogens
Descriptive studies, including those using 'omics approaches, will not be considered for review unless they address further functional insights into a relevant biological process.
Keywords: Coevolution, Host specificity, Phylogenomics, Plant pathogens, Taxonomy