Population genomic analysis of the rice blast fungus reveals specific events associated with expansion of three main clades
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We examined the genomes of 100 isolates of Magnaporthe oryzae (Pyricularia oryzae), the causal agent of rice blast disease. We grouped current field populations of M. oryzae into three major globally distributed groups. A genetically diverse group, clade 1, which may represent a group of closely related lineages, contains isolates of both mating types. Two well-separated clades, clades 2 and 3, appear to have arisen as clonal lineages distinct from the genetically diverse clade. Examination of genes involved in mating pathways identified clade-specific diversification of several genes with orthologs involved in mating behavior in other fungi. All isolates within each clonal lineage are of the same mating type. Clade 2 is distinguished by a unique deletion allele of a gene encoding a small cysteine-rich protein that we determined to be a virulence factor. Clade 3 isolates have a small deletion within the MFA2 pheromone precursor gene, and this allele is shared with an unusual group of isolates we placed within clade 1 that contain AVR1-CO39 alleles. These markers could be used for rapid screening of isolates and suggest specific events in evolution that shaped these populations. Our findings are consistent with the view that M. oryzae populations in Asia generate diversity through recombination and may have served as the source of the clades 2 and 3 isolates that comprise a large fraction of the global population.
author list (cited authors)
Zhong, Z., Chen, M., Lin, L., Han, Y., Bao, J., Tang, W., ... Wang, Z.