In the history of phytopathology, microbial toxins have been the objects of extensive studies as possible pathogenicity or virulence factors for the producer pathogens. The recent development of molecular genetic techniques provided an experimental basis to thoroughly test the role of these secondary metabolites in pathogenesis. Some of them did prove to be highly associated with disease initiation or enhanced virulence in certain plant-pathogen interactions. In this review, we describe recent progresses in the field of plant-pathogen interactions focusing on two toxins; i.e., tabtoxin from Pseudomonas syringae and trichothecenes from Fusarium and other fungi. These microbial toxins have convincingly been shown to play causal roles in plant disease development. Studies on the biosynthesis and resistance mechanisms of these producers are outlined, and the significance of this knowledge is discussed in relation to practical applications in agriculture.
Naturally occurring chlorophyllous pigments, which function as the cofactor in the early photochemical reaction of photosynthesis, have been proven beyond question to be magnesium-complexed porphyrin derivatives. Phototrophic organisms that use (bacterio)chlorophylls ([B]Chls) containing metals other than Mg were unknown for a long time. This common knowledge of natural photosynthesis has recently been modified by the striking finding that a novel purple pigment, zinc-chelated-BChl (Zn-BChl) a, is present as the major and functional pigment in species of the genus Acidiphilium. Acidiphilium species are obligately acidophilic chemoorganotrophic bacteria that grow and produce photopigments only under aerobic conditions. Although the mechanism of photosynthesis with Zn-BChl a in Acidiphilium species is similar to that seen in common purple bacteria, some characteristic photosynthetic features of the acidophilic bacteria are also found. The discovery of natural photosynthesis with Zn-BChl has not only provided a new insight into our understanding of bacterial photosynthesis but also raised some interesting questions to be clarified. The major questions are why the acidophilic bacteria have selected Zn-BChl for their photosynthesis and how they synthesize Zn-BChl and express photosynthetic activity with it in their natural habitats. In this article we review the current knowledge of the biology of Acidiphilium as aerobic photosynthetic bacteria with Zn-BChl a and discuss the interesting topics noted above.
The enhancement of lipase production from Aspergillus niger was attempted by ultraviolet (UV) and nitrous acid mutagenesis, and the mutants were selected on media containing bile salts. Nitrous acid mutants exhibited increased efficiency for lipase production when compared with UV mutants in submerged fermentation. The hyperproducing UV and nitrous acid mutants were further subjected to a second step of mutagenesis to devise an economical and ecofriendly technique for lipase production by the effective use of hydrocarbons. One percent kerosene was found to be optimal for lipase production, and one of the mutant strains NAII exhibited 2.53 times more increased lipase activity than the parental strain did. This investigation indicates a possible role for the A. niger mutant strains in the biodegradation of oil-polluted environments for the development of ecofriendly technologies.
A Gram-positive spore-forming thermophilic strict anaerobic bacterium, designated FH1, was isolated from enrichments at 65°C with dextran as sole carbon and energy source. A sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene revealed 99.2% identity of FH1 to Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum. Furthermore, the substrate spectra of both organisms were similar. It was therefore concluded that FH1 represents a new strain within the species T. thermosaccharolyticum. The optimal growth temperature of strain FH1 was 68°C. The isolated organism produced a thermostable and thermoactive dextranase with a native molecular mass of approximately 200,000 Da. The enzyme was concentrated from the cell-free culture supernatant by ammonium sulfate precipitation. The resulting crude dextranase exhibited optimal activity from 65 to 70°C and a pH optimum of 5.5.
The induction of 2-amino-Δ2-thiazoline-4-carboxylic acid hydrolase (ATCase) and N-carbamoylcysteine amidohydrolase (NCCase), both of which are involved in the conversion step of 2-amino-Δ2-thiazoline carboxylic acid (ATC) to cysteine, was studied with Pseudomonas putida AJ3865. We found that L-ATC induced L-ATCase and L-NCCase, but that D-ATC induced only L-NCCase, whereas L- or D-NCC and thiazoline derivatives did not induce both enzymes. The bacterium showed neither D-ATCase nor D-NCCase activities, indicating that the role of L-ATC and D-ATC was different in the enzyme induction. We also found new inducers, D- and L-methionine, S-methyl-L-cysteine, cysteic acid, and 2-aminoethane sulfonic acid. However, the induction level of both enzymes by new inducers was much lower than those by L-ATC and D-ATC. Furthermore, the induction rate of both enzymes was synergistically increased only under a combination of D,L-ATC and new inducers. S-Compounds, however, such as new inducers except S-methyl-L-cysteine, inhibited both enzyme activities. This is the first report on the new inducers, synergistic induction, and the new inhibitors of L-ATCase and L-NCCase.
In carbon-depleted cultures of Penicillium chrysogenum, age-related chitinases were shown to play a crucial role in both autolysis and fragmentation as indicated by in vivo enzyme inhibition experiments using allosamidin. This pseudotrisaccharide even hindered significantly the outgrowth of new hyphal tips from the surviving yeastlike fragments after glucose supplementation. The antifungal effect of allosamidin on autolyzing P. chrysogenum mycelia was fungistatic rather than fungicidal. In growing hyphae, membrane-bound microsomal chitinase zymogen(s) were detected, which may be indicative of some compartmentalization of these hydrolases. Later, during autolysis, no zymogenic chitinase was detected in any enzyme fraction studied, including microsomes. These observations may explain the different sensitivity of growing and autolyzing mycelia to allosamidin. Chitinases taking part in the age-related fragmentation of hyphae and the outgrowth of surviving hyphal fragments seem to be potent targets for future antifungal drug research.
Yeast strains of the genera Aureobasidium, Rhodotorula and Trichosporon were isolated from stainless steel effluents and tested for their ability to utilize phenol as the sole carbon source. Fourteen strains grew in the presence of up to 10 mM phenol. Only the strain Trichosporon sp. LE3 was able to grow in the presence of up to 20 mM phenol. An inhibitory effect was observed at concentrations higher than 11 mM, resulting in reduction of specific growth rates. Phenol degradation was a function of strain, time of incubation and initial phenol concentration. All strains exhibited activity of catechol 1,2-dioxygenase and phenol hydroxylase in free cell extracts from cells grown on phenol, suggesting that catechol was oxidized by the ortho type of ring fission. Addition of glucose and benzoate reduced the phenol consumption rate, and both substrates were used simultaneously. Glucose concentrations higher than 0.25% inhibited the induction of phenol oxidation by non-proliferating cells and inhibited phenol oxidation by pre-induced cells.