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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995 May;61(5):1720-6.

Chitinolytic Enterobacter agglomerans Antagonistic to Fungal Plant Pathogens.


Three Enterobacter agglomerans strains which produce and excrete proteins with chitinolytic activity were found while screening soil-borne bacteria antagonistic to fungal plant pathogens. The chitinolytic activity was induced when the strains were grown in the presence of colloidal chitin as the sole carbon source. It was quantitated by using assays with chromogenic p-nitrophenyl analogs of disaccharide, trisaccharide, and tetrasaccharide derivatives of N-acetylglucosamine. A set of three fluorescent substrates with a 4-methylumbelliferyl group linked by (beta)-1,4 linkage to N-acetylglucosamine mono- or oligosaccharides were used to identify the chitinolytic activities of proteins which had been renatured following their separation by electrophoresis. This study provides the most complete evidence for the presence of a complex of chitinolytic enzymes in Enterobacter strains. Four enzymes were detected: two N-acetyl-(beta)-d-glucosaminidases of 89 and 67 kDa, an endochitinase with an apparent molecular mass of 59 kDa, and a chitobiosidase of 50 kDa. The biocontrol ability of the chitinolytic strains was demonstrated under greenhouse conditions. The bacteria decreased the incidence of disease caused by Rhizoctonia solani in cotton by 64 to 86%. Two Tn5 mutants of one of the isolates, which were deficient in chitinolytic activity, were unable to protect plants against the disease.

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