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Morphological Transitions Governed by Density Dependence and Lipoxygenase Activity in Aspergillus flavus
- Horowitz Brown, S., Zarnowski, R., Sharpee, W.C., Keller, N.P.
- Applied and environmental microbiology 2008 v.74 no.18 pp. 5674-5685
- Aspergillus flavus, conidia, culture media, linoleic acid, lipoxygenase, mutants, oleic acid, overwintering, phenotype, quorum sensing, sclerotia
- Aspergillus flavus differentiates to produce asexual dispersing spores (conidia) or overwintering survival structures called sclerotia. Results described here show that these two processes are oppositely regulated by density-dependent mechanisms and that increasing the cell density (from 10¹ to 10⁷ cells/plate) results in the lowest numbers of sclerotial and the highest numbers of conidial. Extract from spent medium of low-cell-density cultures induced a high-sclerotium-number phenotype, whereas high-cell-density extract increased conidiation. Density-dependent development is also modified by changes in lipid availability. Exogenous linoleic acid increased sclerotial production at intermediate cell densities (10⁴ and 10⁵ cells/plate), whereas oleic and linolenic acids inhibited sclerotium formation. Deletion of Aflox encoding a lipoxygenase (LOX) greatly diminished density-dependent development of both sclerotia and conidia, resulting in an overall increase in the number of sclerotia and a decrease in the number of conidia at high cell densities (>10⁵ cells/plate). Aflox mutants showed decreased linoleic acid LOX activity. Taken together, these results suggest that there is a quorum-sensing mechanism in which a factor(s) produced in dense cultures, perhaps a LOX-derived metabolite, activates conidium formation, while a factor(s) produced in low-density cultures stimulates sclerotium formation.