What is it about?

Blast disease is a worldwide concern affecting crops like rice and wheat. During plant penetration, the causative fungus Magnaporthe oryzae secretes an enzyme called a polysaccharide monooxygenase directly that is involved in fungal entry to the plant. Genetic deletion of this enzyme results in reduced pathogenicity in rice. This work provides insight into the biochemistry of this enzyme and supports a direct role in plant infection. Inhibitors of this enzyme would represent a novel approach to control over this rice plant pathogen.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Preventing rice blast disease would improve crop yields and feed an additional 60 million people annually. An effective antifungal could mitigate billions of dollars in crop loss annually, incentivizing farmers to purchase an effective treatment. The findings here on rice blast could also be applied to fungal pathogens in commercially grown grapes, tomatoes, and lettuce..


The discovery of the enzymes called polysaccharide monooxygenase was made in a research effort trying to find new and more economical ways to produce biofuels from biomass like cellulose. This subsequent discovery of these enzymes in plant pathogens represents yet another example of fundamental discovery toward one problem unexpectedly having significant application towards another problem.

Michael Marletta
University of California, Berkeley

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Characterization of a unique polysaccharide monooxygenase from the plant pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2215426120.
You can read the full text:




The following have contributed to this page