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Phytochemistry. 2012 Jun;78:44-53. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2012.02.024. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

Ginsenosidases and the pathogenicity of Pythium irregulare.

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Department of Biology and The Biotron, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 5B7.


American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) produces triterpenoid saponins, ginsenosides, that possess mild fungitoxic activity toward some common ginseng leaf pathogens. However, numerous oomycete root pathogens of ginseng, most notably Pythium irregulare Buisman, are able to partially deglycosylate 20 (S)-protopanaxadiol ginsenosides Rb1, Rd and gypenoside XVII via extracellular glycosidases, leading to a common product, ginsenoside F2. Conversion of the common 20 (S)-protopanaxadiols into F2 requires both β (1→6) and β (1→2) glucosidase activity. In the present study, the ability of nine distinct isolates of P. irregulare, as well as a P. ultimum Trow isolate and two isolates of Trichoderma hamatum (Bonord.) Bainier, to deglycosylate 20 (S)-protopanaxadiols, in vitro was examined. The pathogenicity of each isolate was also examined by scoring the severity of disease symptoms caused by each in separate inoculations of one- and two-year old ginseng seedlings. Disease severity was scored using a disease severity index, as well as by taking F(v)/F(m) measurements of leaves during a 14-day infection period. Based on these measurements, it was concluded that (1) the use of direct F(v)/F(m) measurements correlates strongly with observations of disease severity (R(2)=0.79), and that (2) the pathogenicity of P. irregulare isolates correlates with their ability to deglycosylate ginsenosides (R(2)=0.57). These results further support the hypothesis that the pathogenicity of P. irregulare on ginseng roots is dependent, in part, on the ability of this organism to deglycosylate ginsenosides.

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