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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2007 May;20(5):475-91.

Functional analysis of lipid metabolism in Magnaporthe grisea reveals a requirement for peroxisomal fatty acid beta-oxidation during appressorium-mediated plant infection.

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School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Washington Singer Laboratories, Perry Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK.


The rice blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea infects plants by means of specialized infection structures known as appressoria. Turgor generated in the appressorium provides the invasive force that allows the fungus to breach the leaf cuticle with a narrow-penetration hypha gaining entry to the underlying epidermal cell. Appressorium maturation in M. grisea involves mass transfer of lipid bodies to the developing appressorium, coupled to autophagic cell death in the conidium and rapid lipolysis at the onset of appressorial turgor generation. Here, we report identification of the principal components of lipid metabolism in M. grisea based on genome sequence analysis. We show that deletion of any of the eight putative intracellular triacylglycerol lipase-encoding genes from the fungus is insufficient to prevent plant infection, highlighting the complexity and redundancy associated with appressorial lipolysis. In contrast, we demonstrate that a peroxisomally located multifunctional, fatty acid beta-oxidation enzyme is critical to appressorium physiology, and blocking peroxisomal biogenesis prevents plant infection. Taken together, our results indicate that, although triacylglycerol breakdown in the appressorium involves the concerted action of several lipases, fatty acid metabolism and consequent generation of acetyl CoA are necessary for M. grisea to complete its prepenetration phase of development and enter the host plant.

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