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Genetic Structure of the Rice Blast Pathogen (Magnaporthe oryzae) over a Decade in North Central California Rice Fields


Rice blast, caused by the ascomycete Magnaporthe oryzae, is one of the most destructive rice diseases worldwide. Even though the disease has been present in California since 1996, there is no data for the pathogen population biology in the state. Using amplified fragment length polymorphisms and mating-type markers, the M. oryzae population diversity was investigated using isolates collected when the disease was first established in California and isolates collected a decade later. While in the 1990 samples, a single multilocus genotype (MLG) was identified (MLG1), over a decade later, we found 14 additional MLGs in the 2000 isolates. Some of these MLGs were found to infect the only rice blast-resistant cultivar (M-208) available for commercial production in California. The same samples also had a significant decrease of MLG1. MLG1 was found infecting the resistant rice cultivar M-208 on one occasion whereas MLG7 was the most common genotype infecting the M-208. MLG7 was identified in the 2000 samples, and it was not present in the M. oryzae population a decade earlier. Our results demonstrate a significant increase in genotypic diversity over time with no evidence of sexual reproduction and suggest a recent introduction of new virulent race(s) of the pathogen. In addition, our data could provide information regarding the durability of the Pi-z resistance gene of the M-208. This information will be critical to plant breeders in developing strategies for deployment of other rice blast resistance genes/cultivars in the future.

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