Characterization of a novel cysteine-rich antifungal protein from Fusarium graminearum with activity against maize fungal pathogens

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Filamentous fungi are an invaluable source for biocontrol strategies and for production and development of different antifungal polypeptides. Within this context, cysteine-rich antifungal AFP-like peptides stand out among many different antimicrobial compounds given their production easiness, stability, versatility, and efficacy. AFP from Aspergillus giganteus represents the hallmark of this still increasing family of antifungal polypeptides. Close in silico analyses of the Fusarium graminearum genome revealed the presence of an AFP-like peptide, here designated as FgAFP. This new peptide was cloned, produced in the yeast Pichia pastoris, and characterized. The results obtained showed its strong and specific antifungal activity against several well-recognized maize pathogens, but inefficacy against F. oxysporum, which has not been described as a natural biological competitor of other fungal pathogens assayed. All results together suggest that this small peptide is an important factor for the fungal interplays involved in maize infection and reveals unforeseen potential biotechnological applications for FgAFP in maize production and storage.
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