Current progress on genetic interactions of rice with rice blast and sheath blight fungi

Research paper by Yulin Jia, Guangjie Liu, Stefano Costanzo, Seonghee Lee, Yuntao Dai

Indexed on: 09 Jul '09Published on: 09 Jul '09Published in: Frontiers of Agriculture in China


Analysis of genetic interactions between rice and its pathogenic fungi Magnaporthe oryzae and Rhizoctonia solani should lead to a better understanding of molecular mechanisms of host resistance, and the improvement of strategies to manage rice blast and sheath blight diseases. Currently, dozens of rice resistance (R) genes against specific races of the blast fungus have been described. Among them, ten were molecularly characterized and some were widely used for breeding for genetic resistance. The Pi-ta gene was one of the best characterized rice R genes. Following the elucidation of its molecular structure, interaction, distribution, and evolution, user friendly DNA markers were developed from portions of the cloned genes to facilitate the incorporations of the Pi-ta mediated resistance into improved rice varieties using marker assisted selection (MAS). However, rice blast is still a major threat for stable rice production because of race change mutations occurring in rice fields, which often overcome added resistance based on single R genes, and these virulent races of M. oryzae pose a continued challenge for blast control. For sheath blight, progress has been made on the exploration of novel sources of resistance from wild rice relatives and indica rice cultivars. A major quantitative trait locus (QTL), named qSB9-2, was recently verified in several mapping populations with different phenotyping methods, including greenhouse methods. The ability to identify qSB9-2 using greenhouse methods should accelerate the efforts on the qSB9-2 fine mapping and positional cloning.