Release of highly elicitor-active glucans by germinating zoospores of Phytophthora megasperma f. sp. glycinea

Tom Waldmüller, Eric G. Cosio, Hans Grisebach, Jürgen Ebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


An in-vitro culture system allowing the simultaneous germination of cysts was used to study the early host-independent release of phytoalexin elicitors by Phytophthora megasperma f. sp. glycinea, a soybean pathogen. Significant elicitor activity could be detected in the culture medium as early as 2 h after germination of P.m. f. sp. glycinea, race 1, cysts. The phytoalexin elicitor was heat-stable and heterogeneous in size. The apparent molecular mass ranged from 3 to 80 kDa. Anion exchange and lectin-affinity chromatography followed by sugar analysis confirmed that the elicitor activity resided primarily in glucans. The time course of elicitor release could then be accurately monitored by means of a competitive radioligand-displacement assay using the β-glucan elicitor-binding sites of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) membranes. Linkage-composition analysis of the glucan elicitors showed that they were primarily (1 → 3)β-linked with (1 → 6)-β-branches, a composition similar to that of glucans obtained by heat release from mature mycelium but different from that of elicitors obtained by acid hydrolysis or from spontaneous autohydrolytic release by senescent cultures. The naturally released elicitors displayed a biological activity in soybean cotyledon bioassays higher than purified acid-hydrolysed glucan elicitor or than the hepta-(1 → 3, 1 → 6)-β-glucoside, the smallest known carbohydrate elicitor for soybean. The present results demonstrate that elicitor release from the pathogen and perception by the potential host can take place in this system as early as during germ-tube formation and independent of the presence of host-produced endoglucanases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-505
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Glucan elicitor
  • Glycine
  • Phytoalexin defence response
  • Phytophthora


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