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A Chitinase from Tex6 Maize Kernels Inhibits Growth of Aspergillus flavus

January 2004 , Volume 94 , Number  1
Pages  82 - 87

Kenneth G. Moore , Michael S. Price , Rebecca S. Boston , Arthur K. Weissinger , and Gary A. Payne

First author: Waters Corporation, 100 Cummings Center Suite 407N Beverly, MA 01915; second and fifth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University; third author: Department of Botany, North Carolina State University; and fourth author: Department of Crop Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695

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Accepted for publication 14 August 2003.

The maize inbred Tex6 has resistance to colonization and aflatoxin accumulation by Aspergillus flavus. A protein inhibitory to growth of A. flavus has been identified from aqueous extracts of mature Tex6 seeds. This study reports the purification of a chitinase associated with this inhibitory activity to electrophoretic homogeneity and the further characterization of its properties. The inhibitory protein, which has an Mr of 29,000, as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, is an endochitinase that is also capable of exochitinase activity. The enzyme has an optimal pH of 5.5 and a temperature optimum of 45°C. Chitinase activity in maize kernels peaked approximately 36 days after pollination. The Tex6 chitinase purified in this study is capable of inhibiting the growth of A. flavus by 50% at a concentration of 20 μg/ml. Our data indicate that chitinase activity in Tex6 kernels makes a major contribution to the antifungal activity in this maize genotype. Partial peptide sequence of the chitinase showed it to differ from previously reported chitinases.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society