First and fourth authors: Departamento de Genética Molecular, Instituto de Biología Molecular de Barcelona, CID-CSIC, Jordi Girona 18, 08034 Barcelona, Spain; second author: Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Química, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid, Spain; and third author: Departamento de I+D+I, Fundación Promiva, Finca La Veguilla, M501, Km 5.1, Boadilla del Monte, 28660 Madrid, Spain
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Accepted for publication 30 May 2003.
Botrytis blight (gray mold), caused by Botrytis cinerea, is one of the most widely distributed diseases of ornamental plants. In geranium plants, gray mold is responsible for important losses in production. The mold Aspergillus giganteus is known to produce and secrete a basic low-molecular-weight protein, the antifungal protein (AFP). Here, the antifungal properties of the Aspergillus AFP against various B. cinerea isolates obtained from naturally infected geranium plants were investigated. AFP strongly inhibited mycelial growth as well as conidial germination of B. cinerea. Microscopic observations of fungal cultures treated with AFP revealed reduced hyphal elongation and swollen hyphal tips. Washout experiments in which B. cinerea was incubated with AFP for different periods of time and then washed away revealed a fungicidal activity of AFP. Application of AFP on geranium plants protected leaves against Botrytis infection. Cecropin A also was active against this pathogen. An additive effect against the fungus was observed when AFP was combined with cecropin A. These results are discussed in relation to the potential of the afp gene to enhance crop protection against B. cinerea diseases.
© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society