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.
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