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Science 312 (5773): 580-583

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Autophagic Fungal Cell Death Is Necessary for Infection by the Rice Blast Fungus

Claire Veneault-Fourrey, Madhumita Barooah, Martin Egan, Gavin Wakley, Nicholas J. Talbot*

Abstract: Rice blast is caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea, which elaborates specialized infection cells called appressoria to penetrate the tough outer cuticle of the rice plant Oryza sativa. We found that the formation of an appressorium required, sequentially, the completion of mitosis, nuclear migration, and death of the conidium (fungal spore) from which the infection originated. Genetic intervention during mitosis prevented both appressorium development and conidium death. Impairment of autophagy, by the targeted mutation of the MgATG8 gene, arrested conidial cell death but rendered the fungus nonpathogenic. Thus, the initiation of rice blast requires autophagic cell death of the conidium.

School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Washington Singer Laboratories, Perry Road, Exeter EX4 4QG, UK.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: N.J.Talbot{at}

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