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Plant Physiol. 2005 Jan;137(1):190-8. Epub 2004 Dec 23.

Possible roles for mannitol and mannitol dehydrogenase in the biotrophic plant pathogen Uromyces fabae.

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  • 1Phytopathologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.


Levels of the C6-polyol mannitol were observed to rise dramatically in the biotrophic interaction of the rust fungus Uromyces fabae and its host plant Vicia faba. Mannitol was found in millimolar concentrations in extracts and apoplastic fluids of infected leaves and also in extracts of spores. We suggest that this polyol might have at least a dual function: first, as a carbohydrate storage compound, and second, as a scavenger of reactive oxygen species. Mannitol accumulation is accompanied by high expression of a mannitol dehydrogenase (MAD1) in haustoria. While MAD1 transcripts were detected in haustoria only, immunolocalization studies show that the gene product is also present in spores. Kinetic and thermodynamic analyses of the MAD1p catalyzed reactions indicate that the enzyme might be responsible for the production of mannitol in haustoria and for the utilization of mannitol in spores. Since V. faba is normally unable to synthesize or utilize polyols, the multipurpose usage of mannitol seems an ideal strategy for the fungal pathogen.

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