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Inducers of Aflatoxin Biosynthesis from Colonized Maize Kernels Are Generated by an Amylase Activity from Aspergillus flavus

February 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  2
Pages  164 - 169

C. P. Woloshuk , J. R. Cavaletto , and T. E. Cleveland

First and second authors: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907; and third author: U.S.Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA 70179

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Accepted for publication 8 October 1996.

Aflatoxin biosynthesis was induced by compounds in filtrates (EF) obtained from cultures consisting of ground maize kernels colonized by Aspergillus flavus. The inducing activity increased to a maximum at 4 days of incubation and then decreased. Amylase activity was detected in the EF, suggesting that the inducers are products of starch degradation (glucose, maltose, and maltotriose). Analysis of the enzyme by isoelectric focusing electrophoresis indicated a single α-amylase with a pI of 4.3. No maltase or amyloglucosidase was detected in the EF. High-pressure liquid chromatography analysis of the EF indicated the presence of glucose, maltose, and maltotriose in near-equal molar concentrations (about 15 mM). With a β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter assay consisting of A. flavus transformed with an aflatoxin gene promoter-GUS reporter gene fusion to monitor induction of aflatoxin biosynthesis, the minimum concentration of glucose, maltose, or maltotriose that induced measurable GUS activity was determined to be 1 mM. These results support the hypothesis that the best inducers of aflatoxin biosynthesis are carbon sources readily metabolized via glycolysis. They also suggest that α-amylase produced by A. flavus has a role in the induction of aflatoxin biosynthesis in infected maize kernels.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1997