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Genetics. 1991 Jan;127(1):87-101.

Magnaporthe grisea genes for pathogenicity and virulence identified through a series of backcrosses.

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Central Research and Development Department, Du Pont Company, Wilmington, Delaware 19880-0402.


We have identified genes for pathogenicity toward rice (Oryza sativa) and genes for virulence toward specific rice cultivars in the plant pathogenic fungus Magnaporthe grisea. A genetic cross was conducted between the weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) pathogen 4091-5-8, a highly fertile, hermaphroditic laboratory strain, and the rice pathogen O-135, a poorly fertile, female-sterile field isolate that infects weeping lovegrass as well as rice. A six-generation backcrossing scheme was then undertaken with the rice pathogen as the recurrent parent. One goal of these crosses was to generate rice pathogenic progeny with the high fertility characteristic of strain 4091-5-8, which would permit rigorous genetic analysis of rice pathogens. Therefore, progeny strains to be used as parents for backcross generations were chosen only on the basis of fertility. The ratios of pathogenic to nonpathogenic (and virulent to avirulent) progeny through the backcross generations suggested that the starting parent strains differ in two types of genes that control the ability to infect rice. First, they differ by polygenic factors that determine the extent of lesion development achieved by those progeny that infect rice. These genes do not appear to play a role in infection of weeping lovegrass because both parents and all progeny infect weeping lovegrass. Second, the parents differ by simple Mendelian determinants, "avirulence genes," that govern virulence toward specific rice cultivars in all-or-none fashion. Several crosses confirm the segregation of three unlinked avirulence genes, Avr 1-CO39, Avr 1-M201 and Avr1-YAMO, alleles of which determine avirulence on rice cultivars CO39, M201, and Yashiro-mochi, respectively. Interestingly, avirulence alleles of Avr1-CO39, Avr1-M201 and Avr1-YAMO were inherited from the parent strain 4091-5-8, which is a nonpathogen of rice. Middle repetitive DNA sequences ("MGR sequences"), present in approximately 40-50 copies in the genome of the rice pathogen parent, and in very low copy number in the genome of the nonpathogen of rice, were used as physical markers to monitor restoration of the rice pathogen genetic background during introgression of fertility. The introgression of highest levels of fertility into the most successful rice pathogen progeny was incomplete by the sixth generation, perhaps a consequence of genetic linkage between genes for fertility and genes for rice pathogenicity. One chromosomal DNA segment with MGR sequence homology appeared to be linked to the gene Avr1-CO39. Finally, many of the crosses described in this paper exhibited a characteristic common to many crosses involving M. grisea rice pathogen field isolates.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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