Identification, cloning, and characterization of PWL2, a gene for host species specificity in the rice blast fungus

James A. Sweigard, Anne M. Carroll, Seogchan Kang, Leonard Farrall, Forrest G. Chumley, Barbara Valent

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289 Scopus citations


Genetic analysis of host specificity in the rice blast fungus (Magnaporthe grisea) identified a single gene, PWL2 (for Pathogenicity toward Weeping Lovegrass), that exerts a major effect on the ability of this fungus to infect weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula). The allele of the PWL2 gene conferring nonpathogenicity was genetically unstable, with the frequent appearance of spontaneous pathogenic mutants. PWL2 was cloned based on its map position. Large deletions detected in pathogenic mutants guided the gene cloning efforts. Transformants harboring the cloned PWL2 gene lost pathogenicity toward weeping lovegrass but remained fully pathogenic toward other host plants. Thus, the PWL2 host species specificity gene has properties analogous to classical avirulence genes, which function to prevent infection of certain cultivars of a particular host species. The PWL2 gene encodes a glycine-rich, hydrophilic protein (16 kD) with a putative secretion signal sequence. The pathogenic allele segregating in the mapping population, pwl2-2, differed from PWL2 by a single base pair substitution that resulted in a loss of function. The PWL2 locus is highly polymorphic among rice pathogens from diverse geographic locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1233
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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