Increasing incidences of human disease, crop destruction and ecosystem perturbations are attributable to fungi and threaten socioeconomic progress and food security on a global scale. The blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is the most devastating pathogen of cultivated rice, but its metabolic requirements in the host are unclear. Here we report that a purine-requiring mutant of M. oryzae could develop functional appressoria, penetrate host cells and undergo the morphogenetic transition to elaborate bulbous invasive hyphae from primary hyphae, but further in planta growth was aborted. Invasive hyphal growth following rice cell ingress is thus dependent on de novo purine biosynthesis by the pathogen and, moreover, plant sources of purines are neither available to the mutant nor required by the wild type during the early biotrophic phase of infection. This work provides new knowledge about the metabolic interface between fungus and host that might be applicable to other important intracellular fungal pathogens.
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