Toxicity of Potential Fungal Defense Proteins towards the Fungivorous Nematodes Aphelenchus avenae and Bursaphelenchus okinawaensis

Annageldi Tayyrov, Stefanie S. Schmieder, Silvia Bleuler-Martinez, David F. Plaza, Markus Künzlera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Resistance of fungi to predation is thought to be mediated by toxic metabolites and proteins. Many of these fungal defense effectors are highly abundant in the fruiting body and not produced in the vegetative mycelium. The defense function of fruiting body-specific proteins, however, including cytoplasmically localized lectins and antinutritional proteins such as biotin-binding proteins, is mainly based on toxicity assays using bacteria as a heterologous expression system, with bacterivorous/omnivorous model organisms as predators. Here, we present an ecologically more relevant experimental setup to assess the toxicity of potential fungal defense proteins towards the fungivorous, stylet-feeding nematodes Aphelenchus avenae and Bursaphelenchus okinawaensis. As a heterologous expression host, we exploited the filamentous fungus Ashbya gossypii. Using this new system, we assessed the toxicity of six previously characterized, cytoplasmically localized, potential defense proteins from fruiting bodies of different fungal phyla against the two fungivorous nematodes. We found that all of the tested proteins were toxic against both nematodes, albeit to various degrees. The toxicity of these proteins against both fungivorous and bacterivorous nematodes suggests that their targets have been conserved between the different feeding groups of nematodes and that bacterivorous nematodes are valid model organisms to assess the nematotoxicity of potential fungal defense proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02051-18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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