Transposon-based high sequence diversity in Avr-Pita alleles increases the potential for pathogenicity of Magnaporthe oryzae populations.Funct Integr Genomics. 2014 Jun; 14(2):419-29.FI
Magnaporthe oryzae causes rice blast that is one of the most devastating diseases of rice worldwide. Highly variable nature of this fungus has evolved itself against major resistance genes in newly released rice varieties. Understanding the population structure of this fungus is essential for proper utilization of the rice blast resistance genes in rice crop plants. In the present study, we analyzed 133 isolates of M. oryzae from ten countries to find the allelic variation of Avr-Pita gene that is triggering Pita-mediated resistance in rice plant. The diversity analysis of these alleles showed higher level of nucleotide variation in the coding regions than the noncoding regions. Evolutionary analysis of these alleles indicates that Avr-Pita gene is under purifying selection to favor its major alleles in 133 isolates analyzed in this study. We hypothesize that the selection of favorable Avr-Pita allele in these isolates may occur through a genetic mechanism known as recurrent selective sweeps. A total of 22 functional Avr-Pita protein variants were identified in this study. Insertion of Pot3 transposable element into the promoter of Avr-Pita gene was identified in virulent isolates and was suggested that mobility of repeat elements in avirulence genes of M. oryzae seems to help in emergence of new virulent types of the pathogen. Allele-specific markers developed in this study will be helpful to identify a particular type of Avr-Pita allele from M. oryzae population which can form the basis for the deployment of Pita gene in different epidemiological regions.