Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 406I Plant Sciences Hall, Lincoln 68583-0722, U.S.A.
Magnaporthe oryzae is a devastating pathogen of rice and wheat. It is a hemibiotroph that exhibits symptomless biotrophic growth for the first 4 to 5 days of infection of susceptible cultivars before becoming necrotrophic. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of how M. oryzae is able to grow, acquire nutrients, and interact with the plant cell during infection. In particular, we describe direct mechanisms (such as the integration of carbon and nitrogen metabolism by trehalose-6-phospate synthase 1) and indirect mechanisms (such as the suppression of host responses) that allow M. oryzae to utilize available host nutrient. We contrast the ability of M. oryzae to voraciously metabolize a wide range of carbon and nitrogen sources in vitro with the carefully orchestrated development it displays during the biotrophic phase of in planta growth and ask how the two observations can be reconciled. We also look at how nutrient acquisition and effector biology might be linked in order to facilitate rapid colonization of the plant host.