Using the pathogen-host interactions database (PHI-base) to investigate plant pathogen genomes and genes implicated in virulence

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Urban, M., Irvine, A. G., Cuzick, A. and Hammond-Kosack, K. E. 2015. Using the pathogen-host interactions database (PHI-base) to investigate plant pathogen genomes and genes implicated in virulence. Frontiers in Plant Science. 6, p. 605.

AuthorsUrban, M., Irvine, A. G., Cuzick, A. and Hammond-Kosack, K. E.

New pathogen-host interaction mechanisms can be revealed by integrating mutant phenotype data with genetic information. PHI-base is a multi-species manually curated database combining peer-reviewed published phenotype data from plant and animal pathogens and gene/protein information in a single database.

PHI-base is a multi-species knowledge database capturing the phenotypes available on forward and reverse mutants from 231 pathogenic organisms described in the literature. Plant pathogens represent 60% of the species within PHI-base. Simple and advanced search tools, available at, allow users to query PHI-base directly. Flat file downloads enable larger comparative biology studies, systems biology approaches and a richer annotation of genomes, transcriptomes and proteome data sets. Since 2014, phenotype information from PHI-base is directly displayed in pathogen genome browsers accessible at (Kersey et al., 2014). PHI-base regularly interacts with the international community to provide researchers with effective query tools and new data types to study pathogen-host interactions.

Available online since 2005, PHI-base catalogs experimentally verified pathogenicity, virulence and effector genes from fungal, protist, and bacterial pathogens which infect animal, plant, fish, insect, and/or fungal hosts (Urban et al., 2015). PHI-base is a database devoted to the identification and presentation of information on pathogenicity and effector genes and their host interactions. PHI-base was developed out of a need for a knowledge database enabling the discovery of candidate targets in medically and agronomically important species for intervention with chemistries and/or host modifications. Recent bioinformatics studies enabled by whole-database downloads of PHI-base, include comparative analyses, genome/transcript and proteome annotations, and system biology approaches (Hu et al., 2014; Zhang et al., 2014). PHI-base has been cited in 122 published articles including genetics, genomics and bioinformatics research and review articles (for an up-to-date list, see the “About” page of the PHI-base website). In 2014, the web site had more than 6000 visits and the entire content was downloaded >300 times. Phenotypic outcome data from PHI-base are also displayed directly in genome browsers as permanent tracks in public genome sequence resources such as Ensembl Fungi (Figure 1). Through a simple system of color coding and using nine high level PHI-base phenotypes (Urban et al., 2015), genomic features such as pathogenicity islands can directly be investigated.

Keywordsgene regulatory networks; plant diseases; protein interaction mapping; genetic recombination; comparative genomics; horizontal gene transfer; phytopathogens; emerging diseases
Year of Publication2015
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Journal citation6, p. 605
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
PubMed ID26300902
PubMed Central IDPMC4526803
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeWheat
Pathogen-Host Interactions Database: PHI Database [2012-2017]
[20:20 Wheat] Protecting yield potential of wheat
PhytoPath, an infrastructure for hundreds of plant pathogen genomes
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online06 Aug 2015
Publication process dates
Accepted22 Jul 2015
PublisherFrontiers Media SA
Copyright licenseCC BY

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