Magnaporthe oryzae 2539 was previously found to be avirulent to most rice cultivars and, therefore, was assumed to carry many avirulence (AVR) genes. However, only one AVR gene, AVR1-CO39, which corresponds to a resistance (R) gene Pi-CO39(t) in rice cv. CO39, has been found from 2539 thus far. In order to identify more AVR genes, we isolated 228 progeny strains from a cross between 2539 and Guy11, an M. oryzae strain with strong virulence on rice, and inoculated these strains onto 23 rice accessions (22 individual cultivars and a mixture of 14 cultivars) that are all resistant to 2539 but susceptible to Guy11. Unexpectedly, the experimental results indicated that the avirulence of 2539 on these rice cultivars appeared to be controlled only by the AVR1-CO39 locus. Consistent with this result, we further found that all except one of the rice cultivars were resistant to two transformed Guy11 strains carrying a 1.05-kb fragment containing the AVR1-CO39 gene from 2539. These results suggest that AVR1-CO39 is a predominant locus controlling the broad avirulence of 2539 on cultivated rice. Based on the results of this study and other previous studies, we infer that AVR1-CO39 is a species-wise rather than a cultivar-wise host-specific AVR locus of M. oryzae for rice.
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