Deadly E. coliSpecies: Rare hemorrhage-causing strain of E. coli, O104:H4Genome size: 5.2 million base pairsInteresting fact: This strain of E. coli, which caused the recent deadly outbreak in Germany, is a new serotype not involved in any previous E. coli outbreaks. It has acquired several antibiotic resistance genes and specific genetic sequences involved in aggregation ability and virulence.

D. Li, et al., “Genomic data from Escherichia coli O104:H4 isolate TY-2482,” BGI Shenzhen, doi:10.5524/100001, 2011.

Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil

Endangered devilSpecies: Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisiiGenome size: 3.2 billion base pairsInteresting fact: Tasmanian devils, which live in the wild only on the island of Tasmania in Australia, have low genetic diversity within their population. This low diversity, however, preceded the Devil Facial Tumor Disease outbreak that has spread rapidly since it was first observed 15 years ago and now threatens the species with...

W. Miller, et al., “Genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered marsupial Sarcophilus harrisii (Tasmanian devil),” PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1102838108, 2011.

Yeast colonies
Yeast colonies

A yeast trioSpecies: Three yeasts— Saccharomyces bayanusS.kudriavzevii and S. mikataeGenome size: 11 million base pairs eachInteresting fact: The five most commonly studied Saccharomyces yeast species share 5,261 protein-coding orthologs, making them a prime model organism to study the tempo and mechanisms of yeast gene evolution.

D. Scannell, et al., “The awesome power of yeast evolutionary genetics: new genome sequences and strain resources for the Saccharomyces sensu stricto genus,” g3 1:11-25, 2011.

Septoria leaf spot disease, caused by M. graminicola
Septoria leaf spot disease, caused by M. graminicola

Stealthy fungusSpecies: Wheat plant fungus, Mycosphaerella graminicola Genome size: 39.7 million base pairsInteresting fact: M. graminicola stealthily infects wheat plants, slowly killing large swatches of leaf cells and leaving behind large, brown spots, all under the radar of the plants’ immune defenses.

S. Goodwin, et al., “Finished genome of the fungal wheat pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola reveals dispensome structure, chromosome plasticity, and stealth pathogenesis,” PLoS Genetics 7:e1002070, 2011.

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