Aspergillus piperis A/5 from plum-distilling waste compost produces a complex of antifungal metabolites active against the phytopathogen Pythium aphanidermatum

Jelena Jovičić-Petrović, Sanja Jeremić, Ivan Vučković, Sandra Vojnović, Aleksandra Bulajić, Vera Raičević, Jasmina Nikodinović-Runić


Adding compost to soil can result in plant disease suppression through the mechanisms of antagonistic action of compost microflora against plant pathogens. The aim of the study was to select effective antagonists of Pythium aphanidermatum from compost, to assess the effect of its extracellular metabolites on the plant pathogen, and to characterize antifungal metabolites. The fungal isolate selected by a confrontation test was identified as Aspergillus piperis A/5 on the basis of morphological features and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, β-tubulin and calmodulin partial sequences. Liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy (LC-MS) analysis showed that gluconic and citric acid were the most abundant in the organic culture extract. However, the main antifungal activity was contained in the aqueous phase remaining after the organic solvent extraction. The presence of considerable amounts of proteins in both the crude culture extract as well as the aqueous phase remaining after solvent extraction was confirmed by SDS-PAGE. Isolated Aspergillus piperis A/5 exhibits strong antifungal activity against the phytopathogen Pythium aphanidermatum. It secretes a complex mixture of metabolites consisting of small molecules, including gluconic acid, citric acid and itaconic acid derivatives, but the most potent antifungal activity was associated with proteins resistant to heat and organic solvents. Our findings about the activity and characterization of antagonistic strain metabolites contribute to the understanding of the mechanism of interaction of antifungal metabolites as well as fungal-fungal

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