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Plant Signal Behav. 2010 Mar;5(3):258-60. Epub 2010 Mar 9.

Sterol biosynthesis in oomycete pathogens.

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Université de Toulouse, UPS, Surfaces Cellulaires et Signalisation chez les Végétaux, Auzeville, Castanet-Tolosan, France.


Oomycetes are a diverse group of filamentous eukaryotic microbes comprising devastating animal and plant pathogens. They share many characteristics with fungi, including polarized hyphal extension and production of spores, but phylogenetics studies have clearly placed oomycetes outside the fungal kingdom, in the kingdom Stramenopila which also includes marine organisms such as diatoms and brown algae. Oomycetes display various specific biochemical features, including sterol metabolism. Sterols are essential isoprenoid compounds involved in membrane function and hormone signaling. Oomycetes belonging to Peronosporales, such as Phytophthora sp., are unable to synthesize their own sterols and must acquire them from their plant or animal hosts. In contrast, a combination of biochemical and molecular approaches allowed us to decipher a nearly complete sterol biosynthetic pathway leading to fucosterol in the legume pathogen Aphanomyces euteiches, an oomycete belonging to Saprolegniales. Importantly, sterol demethylase, a key enzyme from this pathway, is susceptible to chemicals widely used in agriculture and medicine as antifungal drugs, suggesting that similar products could be used against plant and animal diseases caused by Saprolegniales.


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