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Inhibition of Fungal Spore Adhesion by Zosteric Acid as the Basis for a Novel, Nontoxic Crop Protection Technology

April 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  4
Pages  378 - 383

Michele S. Stanley , Maureen E. Callow , Ruth Perry , Randall S. Alberte , Robert Smith , and James A. Callow

First, second, third, and sixth authors: School of Biosciences, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK; and fourth and fifth authors: Edson Mitchell Laboratory, PhycoGen Inc., 360 US Route 1, Falmouth, ME 04105

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Accepted for publication 30 November 2001.

To explore the potential for nontoxic crop protection technologies based on the inhibition of fungal spore adhesion, we have tested the effect of synthetic zosteric acid (p-(sulfo-oxy) cinnamic acid), a naturally occurring phenolic acid in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) plants, on spore adhesion and infection in two pathosystems: rice blast caused by Magnaporthe grisea and bean anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum lindemuthianum. We have shown that zosteric acid inhibits spore adhesion to model and host leaf surfaces and that any attached spores fail to develop appressoria, and consequently do not infect leaf cells. Low concentrations of zosteric acid that are effective in inhibiting adhesion are not toxic to either fungus or to the host. The inhibition of spore adhesion in the rice blast pathogen is fully reversible. On plants, zosteric acid reduced (rice) or delayed (bean) lesion development. These results suggest that there is potential for novel and environmentally benign crop protection technologies based on manipulating adhesion.

Additional keywords: adhesins, anti-adhesion technology.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society