Conidia play important roles in primary and secondary infections of airborne fungal pathogens. In this study, an insertional mutant with reduced capacity for conidiation was isolated from the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. The mutant has a T-DNA insertion that disrupts a gene named MoCPS1. The deduced MoCps1 protein contains three AMP-binding domains. Gene complementation and gene knockout assays confirmed that MoCPS1 is important for conidiation. Conidia produced by the MoCPS1 deletion mutants are much more slender and longer than those produced by the wild-type strain. The Mocps1 mutants are less efficient in both appressorial penetration and invasive growth of infection hyphae, resulting in attenuated virulence toward host plants. MoCPS1 is highly expressed in a mature appressorium. Interestingly, the expression levels of several genes related to conidiation and pathogenicity have been significantly altered in the MoCPS1 deletion mutants. Taken together, our results indicated that MoCPS1 is important for conidiogenesis, conidial morphogenesis, and pathogenesis in the rice blast fungus.
Keywords: AMP-binding domain; Conidiogenesis; Plant infection; Pyricularia oryzae; Rice blast.