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Genome Organization and Evolution of the AVR-Pita Avirulence Gene Family in the Magnaporthe grisea Species Complex

May 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  5
Pages  658 - 670

Chang Hyun Khang,1 Sook-Young Park,1,2 Yong-Hwan Lee,2 Barbara Valent,3 and Seogchan Kang1

1Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, U.S.A.; 2School of Agricultural Biotechnology and Center for Agricultural Biomaterials, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea; and 3Department of Plant Pathology, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, U.S.A.

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Accepted 23 January 2008.

The avirulence (AVR) gene AVR-Pita in Magnaporthe oryzae prevents the fungus from infecting rice cultivars containing the resistance gene Pi-ta. A survey of isolates of the M. grisea species complex from diverse hosts showed that AVR-Pita is a member of a gene family, which led us to rename it to AVR-Pita1. Avirulence function, distribution, and genomic context of two other members, named AVR-Pita2 and AVR-Pita3, were characterized. AVR-Pita2, but not AVR-Pita3, was functional as an AVR gene corresponding to Pi-ta. The AVR-Pita1 and AVR-Pita2 genes were present in isolates of both M. oryzae and M. grisea, whereas the AVR-Pita3 gene was present only in isolates of M. oryzae. Orthologues of members of the AVR-Pita family could not be found in any fungal species sequenced to date, suggesting that the gene family may be unique to the M. grisea species complex. The genomic context of its members was analyzed in eight strains. The AVR-Pita1 and AVR-Pita2 genes in some isolates appeared to be located near telomeres and flanked by diverse repetitive DNA elements, suggesting that frequent deletion or amplification of these genes within the M. grisea species complex might have resulted from recombination mediated by repetitive DNA elements.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society