Department of Agricultural Biology and Research Center for New Bio-Materials in Agriculture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Suwon 441-744, Korea
Magnaporthe grisea, the causal agent of rice blast, forms a dome-shaped melanized infection structure, an appressorium, to infect its host. Environmental cues that induce appressorium formation in this fungus include the hydrophobicity and hardness of the contact surface and chemicals produced by the host. An elevated concentration of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) has been implicated in appressorium differentiation in M. grisea. Polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, and sper-mine) are involved in cell growth and differentiation in a wide range of organisms. To understand the role of polyamines in appressorium differentiation in M. grisea, intracellular polyamines were quantified, and the effects of polyamines and polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors on conidial germination and appressorium formation were tested. High levels of polyamines were detected in freshly collected spores, but the levels decreased during conidial germination. Spermidine was found to be the major component. Polyamines and polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors did not affect conidial germination, but polyamines specifically impaired appressorium formation. Furthermore, exogenous addition of cAMP restored appressorium formation inhibited by poly-amines. These results suggest that polyamines may reduce intracellular cAMP levels in M. grisea, leading to the inhibition of appressorium formation.