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Fungal Sensitivity to and Enzymatic Degradation of the Phytoanticipin α-Tomatine

February 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  2
Pages  137 - 143

Robert W. Sandrock and Hans D. VanEtten

Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721

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Accepted for publication 15 October 1997.

α-Tomatine, synthesized by Lycopersicon and some Solanum species, is toxic to a broad range of fungi, presumably because it binds to 3β-hydroxy sterols in fungal membranes. Several fungal pathogens of tomato have previously been shown to be tolerant of this glycoalkaloid and to possess enzymes thought to be involved in its detoxification. In the current study, 23 fungal strains were examined for their ability to degrade α-tomatine and for their sensitivity to this compound and two breakdown products, β2-tomatine and tomatidine. Both saprophytes and all five non-pathogens of tomato tested were sensitive, while all but two tomato pathogens (Stemphylium solani and Verticillium dahliae) were tolerant of α-to-matine (50% effective dose > 300 μM). Except for an isolate of Botrytis cinerea isolated from grape, no degradation products were detected when saprophytes and nonpathogens were grown in the presence of α-tomatine. All tomato pathogens except Phytophthora infestans and Pythium aphani-dermatum degraded α-tomatine. There was a strong correlation between tolerance to α-tomatine, the ability to degrade this compound, and pathogenicity on tomato. However, while β2-tomatine and tomatidine were less toxic to most tomato pathogens, these breakdown products were inhibitory to some of the saprophytes and nonpathogens of tomato, suggesting that tomato pathogens may have multiple tolerance mechanisms to α-tomatine.

Additional keywords: glucosidase , nondegradative tolerance , saponin .

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society