The rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is the most serious pathogen of cultivated rice and a significant threat to global food security.


To accelerate targeted mutation and specific genome editing in this species, we have developed a rapid plasmid-free CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing method. We show that stable expression of Cas9 is highly toxic to Moryzae. However efficient gene editing can be achieved by transient introduction of purified Cas9 pre-complexed to RNA guides to form ribonucleoproteins (RNPs). When used in combination with oligonucleotide or PCR-generated donor DNAs, generation of strains with specific base pair edits, in-locus gene replacements, or multiple gene edits, is very rapid and straightforward. We demonstrate a co-editing strategy for the creation of single nucleotide changes at specific loci. Additionally, we report a novel counterselection strategy which allows creation of precisely edited fungal strains that contain no foreign DNA and are completely isogenic to the wild type. Together, these developments represent a scalable improvement in the precision and speed of genetic manipulation in Moryzae and are likely to be broadly applicable to other fungal species.