14.3 The Rice Blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea (Ascomycota)

Magnaporthe grisea (= Magnaporthe oryzae) is the most destructive pathogen of rice worldwide, destroying enough rice to feed 60 million people each year. The fungus infects its host by producing an appressorium from the germinating conidium. This has become an experimental system of choice for studying spore attachment, germination and plant surface recognition, the formation of infection structures, and their penetration of host cells and tissues (Knogge, 1998).

M. grisea has also become the main ‘model organism’ for studying the molecular aspects of fungal plant disease. The draft sequence of the M. grisea genome was published in 2005 (Dean et al., 2005) and subsequently a functional genomics study of pathogenicity revealed many new gene functions required for rice blast disease (Jeon et al., 2007; Talbot, 2007), improving understanding of the adaptations required by a fungus to cause disease (Lorenz, 2002).

Resources Box

More information about plant pathogens

More information about plant pathogens can be found in the British Society of Plant Pathology’s Pathogen profiles, which are a regular feature in the journal Molecular Plant Pathology and BSPPWeb providing brief overviews of the latest research on particular pathogens.

Profile summaries are available at http://www.bspp.org.uk/ [go to <Publications> and then click on <Molecular Pl. Pathology>]
Full articles can be downloaded from the Blackwell Molecular Plant Pathology web site [http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1464-6722&site=1]

We would also strongly recommend a visit to the teaching materials on the website maintained by the Department of Plant Pathology of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA at this URL:

http://www.plantpath.wisc.edu/PDDCEducation/EducationIndex.htm

Updated December 17, 2016