Confocal microscopy image of rice cells being invaded by the rice blast fungus. The fungus is secreting an effector protein (Pwl2) tagged with a red fluorescent protein and a nuclear localization signal. Also shown is an interfacial matrix protein (Bas4) tagged with a green fluorescent protein. Pwl2, but not Bas4, preferentially accumulated in the biotrophic interfacial complex (yellow) and entered the invaded rice cell, shown by the concentration of the red signal in the rice nucleus. Pwl2 subsequently moved into adjoining non-invaded cells.
Fungi are major pathogens of plants. We are interested in understanding how fungi manipulate plant cells to cause disease and how plant cells respond to the invading fungi. To answer these questions, we study rice blast disease caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae. Rice blast remains one of the world's most devastating diseases, destroying enough rice to feed more than 60 million people each year. In addition to its economical significance, rice blast is a model system for the study of plant-fungal interactions. We hope that our research will have translational value for controlling rice blast and other fungal diseases. Our laboratory is located in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.
University of Georgia, Department of Plant Biology, Athens, GA 30602