Agricultural Applications

Volume 11 of the series The Mycota pp 153-169

Molecular Variability Studies of Magnaporthe grisea and Their Application in Disease Control

  • Nicholas J. TalbotAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences, Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter

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The blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea (Hebert) Barr is an economically important pathogen of more than 50 grass species and causes severe disease in a number of important crop species, including rice, millets and wheat (Ou 1985; Rossman et al. 1990). The fungus is an ascomycete (anamorph Pyricularia grisea) and is closely related to other pathogenic fungi such as Gaeumannomyces graminis and Phialophora graminicola within the Magnaporthaceae (Mugnier 1999). M. grisea causes a foliar, leaf spot disease which is recognised by the presence of large oval lesions on the leaf surface that can coalesce in heavy infections and cause widespread necrosis of leaves. In older plants, the fungus can spread to the stems and grain and in rice this causes node, neck and panicle blast — significant diseases that can lead to complete loss of the harvest (Fig. 9.1).