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Cautionary Notes on Use of the MoT3 Diagnostic Assay for Magnaporthe oryzae Wheat and Rice Blast Isolates

Gupta, Dipali Rani, Avila, Claudia Sarai Reyes, Win, Joe, Soanes, Darren M., Ryder, Lauren S., Croll, Daniel, Bhattacharjee, Pallab, Hossain, Md. Shaid, Mahmud, Nur Uddin, Mehebub, Md. Shabab, Surovy, Musrat Zahan, Rahman, Md. Mahbubur, Talbot, Nicholas J., Kamoun, Sophien, Islam, M. Tofazzal
Phytopathology 2019 v.109 no.4 pp. 504-508
DNA, Magnaporthe oryzae, barley, blast disease, diagnostic techniques, fungi, genes, genetic recombination, genomics, grasses, hosts, nucleotide sequences, pathogens, rice, wheat, Bangladesh, India, United Kingdom
The blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is comprised of lineages that exhibit varying degrees of specificity on about 50 grass hosts, including rice, wheat, and barley. Reliable diagnostic tools are essential given that the pathogen has a propensity to jump to new hosts and spread to new geographic regions. Of particular concern is wheat blast, which has suddenly appeared in Bangladesh in 2016 before spreading to neighboring India. In these Asian countries, wheat blast strains are now co-occurring with the destructive rice blast pathogen raising the possibility of genetic exchange between these destructive pathogens. We assessed the recently described MoT3 diagnostic assay and found that it did not distinguish between wheat and rice blast isolates from Bangladesh. The assay is based on primers matching the WB12 sequence corresponding to a fragment of the M. oryzae MGG_02337 gene annotated as a short chain dehydrogenase. These primers could not reliably distinguish between wheat and rice blast isolates from Bangladesh based on DNA amplification experiments performed in separate laboratories in Bangladesh and in the United Kingdom. Specifically, all eight rice blast isolates tested in this study produced the WB12 amplicon. In addition, comparative genomics of the WB12 nucleotide sequence revealed a complex underlying genetic structure with related sequences across M. oryzae strains and in both rice and wheat blast isolates. We, therefore, caution against the indiscriminate use of this assay to identify wheat blast and encourage further development of the assay to ensure its value in diagnosis.