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Specificity and mode of action of the antifungal fatty acid cis-9-heptadecenoic acid produced by Pseudozyma flocculosa

Avis, T.J., Belanger, R.R.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2001 v.67 no.2 pp. 956-960
fungal antagonists, chemical composition, mechanism of action, membrane permeability, Deuteromycotina, unsaturated fatty acids, plant pathogenic fungi, cell membranes, spore germination, sterols, phospholipids
cis-9-Heptadecenoic acid (CHDA), an antifungal fatty acid produced by the biocontrol agent Pseudozyma flocculosa, was studied for its effects on growth and/or spore germination in fungi. Inhibition of growth and/or germination varied considerably and revealed CHDA sensitivity groups within tested fungi. Analysis of lipid composition in these fungi demonstrated that sensitivity was related primarily to a low intrinsic sterol content and that a high level of unsaturation of phospholipid fatty acids was not as involved as hypothesized previously. Our data indicate that CHDA does not act directly with membrane sterols, nor is it utilized or otherwise modified in fungi. A structural mechanism of CHDA, consistent with the other related antifungal fatty acids produced by P. flocculosa, is proposed in light of its activity and specificity. The probable molecular events implicated in the sensitivity of fungi to CHDA are (i) partitioning of CHDA into fungal membranes; (ii) a variable elevation in fluidity dependent on the buffering capability (sterol content) in fungi; and (iii) higher membrane disorder causing conformational changes in membrane proteins, increased membrane permeability and, eventually, cytoplasmic disintegration.