Bharat B. Chattoo, Ph.D.
Professor, Faculty of Science M.S.University of Baroda, India
Biology of plant infection by Magnaporthe oryzae
The rice blast disease caused by the ascomycetous fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is a major constraint in rice production. Rice-M.oryzae is also emerging as a good model patho-system to investigate how the fungus invades and propagates within the host. Identification and characterisation of genes critical for fungal pathogenesis provides opportunities to explore their use as possible targets for development of strategies for combating fungal infection and to better understand the complex process of host-pathogen interaction.
We have used insertional mutagenesis and RNAi based approaches to identify pathogenesis related genes in this fungus. A large number of mutants were isolated using Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation (ATMT). Characterisation of several interesting mutants is in progress. We have identified a novel gene, MGA1, required for the development of appressoria. The mutant mga1 is unable to infect and is impaired in glycogen and lipid mobilization required for appressorium development. The glycerol content in the mycelia of the mutant was significantly lower as compared to wild type and it was unable to tolerate hyperosmotic stress. A novel ABC transporter was identified in this fungus. The abc4 mutant did not form functional appressoria, was non-pathogenic and showed increased sensitivity to certain antifungal molecules implying the role of ABC4 in multidrug resistance (MDR). Another mutant MoSUMO (MGG_05737) was isolated using a Split Marker technique; the mutant showed defects in growth, germination and infection. Immuno-fluorescence microscopy revealed that MoSumo is localized to septa in mycelia and nucleus as well as septa in spores. Two Dimensional Gel Electrophoresis showed differences in patterns of protein expression between Wild Type B157 and MoΔSumo mutant. We also isolated and charaterised mutants in MoALR2 (MGG_08843) and MoMNR2 (MGG_09884). Our results indicate that both MoALR2 and MoMNR2 are Mg2+ transporters, and the reduction in the levels of CorA transporters caused defects in surface hydrophobicity, cell wall stress tolerance, sporulation, appressorium formation and infection are mediated through changes in the key signaling cascades in the knock-down transformants. (Work supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India)