Multiple translocation of the AVR-Pita effector gene among chromosomes of the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae and related species

PLoS Pathog. 2011 Jul;7(7):e1002147. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002147. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


Magnaporthe oryzae is the causal agent of rice blast disease, a devastating problem worldwide. This fungus has caused breakdown of resistance conferred by newly developed commercial cultivars. To address how the rice blast fungus adapts itself to new resistance genes so quickly, we examined chromosomal locations of AVR-Pita, a subtelomeric gene family corresponding to the Pita resistance gene, in various isolates of M. oryzae (including wheat and millet pathogens) and its related species. We found that AVR-Pita (AVR-Pita1 and AVR-Pita2) is highly variable in its genome location, occurring in chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and supernumerary chromosomes, particularly in rice-infecting isolates. When expressed in M. oryzae, most of the AVR-Pita homologs could elicit Pita-mediated resistance, even those from non-rice isolates. AVR-Pita was flanked by a retrotransposon, which presumably contributed to its multiple translocation across the genome. On the other hand, family member AVR-Pita3, which lacks avirulence activity, was stably located on chromosome 7 in a vast majority of isolates. These results suggest that the diversification in genome location of AVR-Pita in the rice isolates is a consequence of recognition by Pita in rice. We propose a model that the multiple translocation of AVR-Pita may be associated with its frequent loss and recovery mediated by its transfer among individuals in asexual populations. This model implies that the high mobility of AVR-Pita is a key mechanism accounting for the rapid adaptation toward Pita. Dynamic adaptation of some fungal plant pathogens may be achieved by deletion and recovery of avirulence genes using a population as a unit of adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins* / biosynthesis
  • Fungal Proteins* / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / physiology*
  • Genes, Fungal / physiology*
  • Genome, Fungal / physiology*
  • Magnaporthe* / genetics
  • Magnaporthe* / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oryza / microbiology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*


  • Fungal Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB607333
  • GENBANK/AB607334
  • GENBANK/AB607335
  • GENBANK/AB607336
  • GENBANK/AB607337
  • GENBANK/AB607338
  • GENBANK/AB607339
  • GENBANK/AB607340
  • GENBANK/AB607341
  • GENBANK/AB607342
  • GENBANK/AB607343
  • GENBANK/AB607344
  • GENBANK/AB607345