Rice Blast

Nature and disease symptoms Rice Blast – Page 1 of 3
Rice blast is one of the most important diseases of rice, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae B.C. Couch (Couch and Kohn 2002). The pathogen may infect all the aboveground parts of a rice plant at different growth stages: leaf, collar, node, internode, base, or neck, and other parts of the panicle, and sometimes the leaf sheath. A typical blast lesion on a rice leaf is gray at the center, has a dark border, and is spindle-shaped (large in the middle and tapering toward the end; Fig. 1a). Under favorable conditions, leaf lesions enlarge and coalesce, eventually blighting the entire leaf. Leaf blast lesions on some varieties are sometimes similar to brown spot lesions. Collar blast causes reddish brown to brown collar lesions (Fig. 1b) and may kill the entire attached leaf. In the case of node blast, the node turns blackish (Fig. 1c) and breaks easily. Neck blast results in a girdled neck with grayish brown lesions (Fig. 1d). These different symptoms have very different consequences for rice yield (Pinnschmidt et al 1994), and neck blast is potentially the most destructive. Neck blast may be confused with “whiteheads” caused by stem borer injuries. Both injuries result in empty, erect, whitegray, and conspicuously injured panicles. However, unlike injury caused by stem borer, for which the entire stem can be pulled out readily, neck blast causes only injury at the neck, and normally does not extend further into the leaf sheath.

rice fact sheets

Occurrence of blast




Fig. 1. Blast lesions on the leaf (a), collar (b), node (c) and neck (d) of a rice plant.
Rice blast is present wherever rice is cultivated, but the disease occurs with highly variable intensities, depending on climate and cropping system. Environments with frequent and prolonged dew periods and with cool temperature in daytime are more favorable to blast. This applies particularly to upland and rainfed environments in the tropics and subtropics, as well as irrigated areas in temperate ecosystems.

Factors favoring the disease
The literature concerning factors that may influence blast is extensive, and can be only briefly summarized here (Teng 1994). The early literature emphasized the many physical and micro-climatic factors that may influence the life cycle of the pathogen (e.g., Hashimoto 1981), including spore liberation, transport, deposition, infection, latency, and sporulation. For each phase of the life cycle, an optimum of environmental factors often exists for blast. Thus, subtropical or temperate environments, where canopy wetness is frequent along with moderate temperature, are particularly inducive to blast. A considerable amount of work has been devoted to studying pathogen-host-environment interrelationships in blast. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer promotes the disease. On the other hand, moderate water stress also favors the disease, especially the sporulation of the pathogen. Blast can be a major disease of both lowland and upland rice, under favorable conditions—for example, extended duration of leaf wetness, a high amount of nitrogen, and cool temperature.

For more information, visit the Rice Knowledge Bank: http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org
To diagnose problems in the field, visit www.knowledgebank.irri.org/ricedoctor. Developed with input from: N. Castilla, S. Savary, C.M. Vera Cruz, and H. Leung
Produced by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) • © 2010 IRRI, All rights reserved • Mar 2010

to the diversity of the pathogen that is present.org To diagnose problems in the field. Savary. and it may offer a more stable form of resistance. Vera Cruz. The available genomics tools in rice and in the fungus have offered many opportunities for investigation of host-pathogen interaction. and H. The blast fungus. Chemical control Many fungicides have been developed to control blast. however. Cheap sources of silicon. has attracted interest in pathogen genetics and evolution. Partial resistance. The excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer promotes luxuriant crop growth. Reliance on major resistance genes. The use of fungicides with similar modes of action over extensive periods is not recommended because it has resulted in the emergence of resistant populations of the pathogen (Kim et al 2008). Manosalva et al 2009).org/ricedoctor.Rice Blast – Page 2 of 3 Detailed quantitative knowledge of the life cycle.. Some 40 genes for major resistance to blast are known. C. The genome of the blast fungus has been sequenced. have been successfully used to control blast in Japan (Koizumi 2001). visit www. Crop management Split applications of nitrogen based on actual requirements of the crop are recommended to reduce disease intensity. silicon should be applied efficiently. which increases the relative humidity and leaf wetness of the crop canopy. particularly in tropical areas where conditions are not very favorable to blast. the primary control option for blast. and evolution. is usually controlled by multiple genes. with its high degree of genetic variability. Control of rice blast Host plant resistance Host-plant resistance is. For more information. the severity of leaf blast epidemics is dependent on two key phases of the disease cycle: infection (a deposited pathogen spore infects a healthy leaf site) and sporulation (the amount of spores produced by a blast lesion over an infectious period). disease resistance.irri. by far. blast can be managed through the use of diverse varieties with different levels of resistance and modified cultural practices.g. leading to many DNA markers corresponding to major resistance genes identified. for example. on the other hand. pathogen population genetics. calcium silicate) to soils that are deficient in this element has reduced blast. Another critical factor that determines the likelihood of a blast epidemic is related to the genotype of the rice variety that is cultivated.knowledgebank. aided by simulation modeling studies (Teng 1994). Combining broad-spectrum resistance genes with multiple quantitative resistance genes may be a promising approach to develop durable resistance (Jena and Mackill 2008. Good control of panicle blast can be achieved through interplanting rice varieties (Zhu et al 2000). which represents the second fungicide market worldwide. is risky because new genotypes of the pathogen can evolve rapidly and overcome host resistance (Zeigler et al 1994).knowledgebank. and so favors blast. The molecular genetics of blast resistance has been extensively studied (Jena and Mackill 2008). Systemic fungicides are often used to control blast in many rice-growing areas. Nonetheless. Developed with input from: N. can be considered to make this approach economically viable. in spite of the difficulties this disease represents in developing durable and efficient resistances. provides an entry point for devising strategies for disease control. Because of its high cost. Castilla. comprising several near-isogenic lines each carrying different resistance genes. some resistance genes are found to confer broad-spectrum resistance against pathogen strains tested. Achieving control over these two stages is known to effectively control the disease. Multilines. Resistant rice varieties probably confer resistance through interference of the infection and sporulation processes. rice fact sheets The rice blast pathosystem is a model system for basic studies by biologists. including the use of host-plant resistance.M. In some situations. Flooding the soil as often as possible can be effective. All rights reserved • Mar 2010 . Leung 2 Produced by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) • © 2010 IRRI. visit the Rice Knowledge Bank: http://www.irri. and their interaction. In general. straw of rice genotypes with high silicon content. The application of silicon fertilizers (e. S.

Leong SA. Pinnschmidt HO. Teng PS. Crop Sci. Wang Z. In: Mew TW. 48:1266-1276. 2001. Savary. Wang Y. Teng PS. editors. Zhu Y. 1981.knowledgebank. 149:286-296. Fan JX.irri. 2000. editors. 1994. PM. C. Oxon (United Kingdom): CAB International.org To diagnose problems in the field. Castilla. 2008. Kim KD. Developed with input from: N. Los Baños (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute. 1994. Leach JE. Y. In: Zeigler RS. Teng PS. Leong SA. Mackill DJ. Rev. Mundt CC. Oxon (United Kingdom): CAB International. Liu Bin. Wallingford. Leung H. Davidson RM. Koizumi S. Chen H. Magnaporthe oryzae. In: Zeigler RS. Yang S. rice fact sheets For more information. Exploiting biodiversity for sustainable pest management. Fan JH. Genetic diversity and disease control in rice. Rice blast disease. Mew TW. Variation in sensitivity of Magnaporthe oryzae isolates from Korea to edifenphos and iprobenfos. grisea. Rice blast control with multilines in Japan. Mycologia 94:683-693. Oxon (United Kingdom): CAB International. Leung H. Hardy B.Rice Blast – Page 3 of 3 References Couch BC. Hu L. Vera Cruz. Zeigler RS. Wallingford. 27:1464-1470. Teng PS. Los Baños (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute. Li Y. Teng PS. Rice blast disease. Plant Prot. A multilocus gene genealogy concordant with host preference indicates segregation of a new species. 2008. Oh JY. Hwang BK. Zhu XY. 2002. Hulbert SH. Water droplets on rice leaves in relation to the incidence of leaf blast: use of the dew balance for forecasting the disease. Hashimoto A. S. Nature 406:718-722. Plant Physiol. from M.org/ricedoctor. Rice blast disease. Kohn LM. visit www. editors. Manosalva. 14:112-126. p 143-157. p 381-408. and H. Chen J. Kim YS. Methodology for quantifying rice yield effects of blast. editors. Leong SA. p 409-434. 2009. Borromeo E. A germin-like protein gene family functions as a complex quantitative trait locus conferring broad-spectrum disease resistance in rice. The epidemiological basis for blast management. Leung 3 Produced by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) • © 2010 IRRI. Los Baños (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute. Wallingford. Molecular markers and their use in marker-assisted selection in rice. 626 p. Jena KK. Rice blast disease.M. Res. editor. Leong SA.knowledgebank. Los Baños (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute. Teng PS. All rights reserved • Mar 2010 . Teng PS.irri. In: Zeigler RS. Luo. visit the Rice Knowledge Bank: http://www. Crop Prot. 1994.