The central dogma of molecular biology states that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is transcribed to a form of ribonucleic acid known as messenger RNA (mRNA). These mRNA molecules are then translated to a string of amino acids known as a protein. These processes form the foundation of our understanding of the relationships between genotype (the sequence of nucleotides at a given locus) and phenotype (the observable characteristics resulting from the expression of a genotype in a given environment). A DNA molecule consists of four chemical residues (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine) known as nucleotides. All of the variation we observe in nature reflects differences in the composition, structure, and expression of the nucleotide sequences present in DNA. Population genomics provides invaluable tools for investigating the evolution of plant pathogens by analyzing the variation in nucleotide sequences. This enables studies of phenotypic characteristics that may be relevant to managing plant diseases such as pathogenicity, virulence, and host specialization (Grünwald et al. 2016). These tools also allow for the study of basic biological and evolutionary characteristics of plant pathogens including reproduction, migration, and natural selection (Grünwald et al. 2016). The population genomics framework has particular utility for investigating the epidemiology of invasive pathogen populations including introduction event(s), dispersal, colonization history, centers of origin, and novel adaptations in new environments (Barnes et al. 2014, Garbelotto et al. 2013, Goss et al. 2009, Kamvar et al. 2015). This information is essential for developing efficient and effective plant disease management strategies.
Bennett, Patrick I.; LeBoldus, Jared M. 2020. Analyzing genetic variation: What can population genomics tell us about the biology and management of our favorite forest pathogens? In: Reynolds, G. J.; Wilhelmi, N. P.; Palacios, P., comps. Proceedings of the 66th Western International Forest Disease Work Conference; Estes Park, Colorado; 3-7 June 2019. p. 15-16.