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A Homeobox Gene Is Essential for Conidiogenesis of the Rice Blast Fungus Magnaporthe oryzae

April 2010 , Volume 23 , Number  4
Pages  366 - 375

Wende Liu,1,2 Shiyong Xie,1 Xinhua Zhao,2 Xin Chen,1 Wenhui Zheng,1 Guodong Lu,1 Jin-Rong Xu,2 and Zonghua Wang1

1Key Laboratory of Biopesticide and Chemical Biology, Ministry of Education, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, 350002, China; 2Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, U.S.A.

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Accepted 9 December 2009.

Magnaporthe oryzae starts its infection by the attachment of pyriform conidia on rice tissues, and severity of the disease epidemic is proportional to the quantity of conidia produced in the rice blast lesions. However, the mechanism of conidial production is not well understood. Homeodomain proteins play critical roles in regulating various growth and developmental processes in fungi and other eukaryotes. Through targeted gene replacement, we find that deletion of HTF1, one of seven homeobox genes in the fungal genome, does not affect mycelial growth but causes total defect of conidial production. Further observation revealed that the Δhtf1 mutant produces significantly more conidiophores, which curve slightly near the tip but could not develop sterigmata-like structures. Although the Δhtf1 mutant fails to form conidia, it could still develop melanized appressoria from hyphal tips and infect plants. The expression level of HTF1 is significantly reduced in the Δmgb1 G-β and ΔcpkA deletion mutant, and the ACR1 but not CON7 gene that encodes transcription factor required for normal conidiogenesis is significantly downregulated in the Δhtf1 mutant. These data suggest that the HTF1 gene is essential for conidiogenesis, and may be functionally related to the trimeric G-protein signaling and other transcriptional regulators that are known to be important for conidiation in M. oryzae.

© 2010 The American Phytopathological Society