Plant disease outbreaks caused by fungi are a chronic threat to global food security. A prime case is blast disease, which is caused by the ascomycete fungus Magnaporthe oryzae (syn. Pyricularia oryzae), which is infamous as the most destructive disease of the staple crop rice. However, despite its Linnaean binomial name, M. oryzae is a multihost pathogen that infects more than 50 species of grasses. A timely study by P. Gladieux and colleagues (mBio 9:e01219-17, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01219-17) reports the most extensive population genomic analysis of the blast fungus thus far. M. oryzae consists of an assemblage of differentiated lineages that tend to be associated with particular host genera. Nonetheless, there is clear evidence of gene flow between lineages consistent with maintaining M. oryzae as a single species. Here, we discuss these findings with an emphasis on the ecologic and genetic mechanisms underpinning gene flow. This work also bears practical implications for diagnostics, surveillance, and management of blast diseases.
|Publication status||Published - 17 Apr 2018|
- School of Biological Sciences - Professor of Biology
- Plant Sciences - Member
Person: Research Group Member, Academic, Teaching & Research