University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Investigating the biology of plant infection by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae

Investigating the biology of plant infection by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae

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Magnaporthe oryzae is the causal agent of rice blast, one of the most serious economic problems affecting rice production. The availability of genome sequences for M. oryzae and its host, Oryza sativa, has provide the means to investigate this fungal-plant interaction in great detail and develop a system biology approach to understanding plant disease. During plant infection, M. oryzae develops a differentiated infection structure called an appressorium. This unicellular, dome-shaped structure generates cellular turgor, that is translated into mechanical force to cause rupture of the rice cuticle and entry into plant tissue. My research group is interested in determining the molecular basis of appressorium development and understanding the genetic regulation of the infection process by the rice blast fungus. We have recently shown that development of a functional appressorium is linked to the control of cell division and autophagic programmed cell death in M. oryzae. Appressorium formation also requires an oxidative burst that involving the action of NADPH oxidases and cellular differentiation is coupled to an alteration in fungal metabolism leading to enormous turgor generation in the infection cell. Once inside the plant, M. oryzae has evolved mechanisms to suppress plant defences and invade living plant tissue, which involve the secretion of protein effectors. Progress in these research areas will be presented.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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