To establish an infection, fungal pathogens must recognize diverse signals from host surfaces. The rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae, is one of the best models studying host-pathogen interactions. This fungus recognizes physical or chemical signals from the host surfaces and initiates the development of an infection structure called appressorium. Here, we found that protein MoAfo1(appressorium formation, MGG_10422) was involved in sensing signal molecules such as cutin monomers and long chain primary alcohols required for appressorium formation. The knockout mutant (ΔMoafo1) formed a few abnormal appressoria on the onion and rice sheath surfaces. However, it produced normal appressoria on the surface of rice leaves. MoAfo1 localized to the membranes of the cytoplasm and vacuole-like organelles in conidia and appressoria. Additionally, the ΔMoafo1 mutant showed defects in appressorium morphology, appressorium penetration, invasive growth, and pathogenicity. These multiple defects might be partially due to failure to respond properly to oxidative stress. These findings broaden our understanding of the fungal mechanisms at play in the recognition of the host surface during rice blast infection.
Keywords: appressorium formation; host signal sensing; reactive oxygen species.