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Cellular Lipid Composition Affects Sensitivity of Plant Pathogens to Fengycin, an Antifungal Compound Produced by Bacillus subtilis Strain CU12

October 2014 , Volume 104 , Number  10
Pages  1,036 - 1,041

Cody Wise, Justin Falardeau, Ingrid Hagberg, and Tyler J. Avis

Department of Chemistry, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada

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Accepted for publication 19 March 2014.

Fengycin is an antimicrobial cyclic lipopeptide produced by various Bacillus subtilis strains, including strain CU12. Direct effects of fengycin include membrane pore formation and efflux of cellular contents leading to cell death in sensitive microorganisms. In this study, four plant pathogens were studied in order to elucidate the role of membrane lipids in their relative sensitivity to fengycin. Inhibition of mycelial growth in these pathogens varied considerably. Analysis of membrane lipids in these microorganisms indicated that sensitivity correlated with low ergosterol content and shorter phospholipid fatty acyl chains. Sensitivity to fengycin also correlated with a lower anionic/zwitterionic phospholipid ratio. Our data suggest that decreased fluidity buffering capacity, as a result of low ergosterol content, and higher intrinsic fluidity afforded by short fatty acyl chain length may increase the sensitivity of microbial membranes to fengycin. Our results also suggest that lower content in anionic phospholipids may increase fengycin insertion into the membrane through reduced electrostatic repulsion with the negatively charged fengycin. The intrinsic membrane lipid composition may contribute, in part, to the observed level of antimicrobial activity of fengycin in various plant pathogens.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society