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Virulence Activities of the Metalloprotease Effector AVR-Pita from the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae

Project description

Metalloprotease effector AVR-Pita and the fitness of the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae

The fungus Magnaporthe oryzae (M. oryzae) is the causal agent of rice blast disease which is responsible for tremendous yield loss making it a major threat to global food security. The development of efficient control strategies against plant diseases requires an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogen virulence. Pathogens rely on secreted proteins called effectors to manipulate the host molecular machinery for their benefit. The EU-funded VAMEAP project proposes to characterise the virulence activities of the metalloprotease effector AVR-Pita from M. oryzae. Despite a strong selection pressure against this effector, AVR-Pita is maintained in populations of the pathogen, suggesting a crucial role for fitness of M. oryzae. The research will survey the diversity and sequence polymorphisms in AVR-Pita, investigate the impact of its loss on the fitness of the fungus, identify the virulence targets of AVR-Pita and characterise the protease activity of the effector.

Objective

Plant diseases are a major constraint on food production. To rationally design efficient and resilient disease control strategies, it is essential to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogen virulence. Most pathogens rely on secreted proteins called effectors to manipulate the host machinery for their benefit and perform their life cycle. In VAMEAP, we propose to characterize the virulence activities of the metalloprotease effector AVR-Pita from Magnaporthe oryzae, the causal agent of rice blast disease. Despite a strong selection pressure against this effector, AVR-Pita is maintained in populations of the pathogen suggesting a crucial role for the fitness of M. oryzae. Yet, next to nothing is known about the virulence activities or host targets of AVR-Pita. Here we propose an ambitious combination of biochemical and functional approaches to bridge this knowledge gap. We will survey the natural diversity and sequence polymorphisms in AVR-Pita and investigate the impact of its loss on the fitness of M. oryzae. We will identify the virulence targets of AVR-Pita using protein-protein interaction screens and characterize the protease activity of this effector. Beyond the knowledge that this project will gather on AVR-Pita, it will also help to understand the biology of metalloprotease effectors commonly found in fungal pathogens. The multidisciplinary approach developed in this project will be a powerful tool to further understand fungal virulence and help design new resistance strategies to control fungal crop diseases.

Coordinator

INSTITUT NATIONAL DE RECHERCHE POUR L'AGRICULTURE, L'ALIMENTATION ET L'ENVIRONNEMENT
Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
Address
147 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE
75007 Paris
France

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Region
Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
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Total cost
€ 184 707,84