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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Nov;79(22):6924-31. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02061-13. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

Structural features of sugars that trigger or support conidial germination in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, United Kingdom.


The asexual spores (conidia) of Aspergillus niger germinate to produce hyphae under appropriate conditions. Germination is initiated by conidial swelling and mobilization of internal carbon and energy stores, followed by polarization and emergence of a hyphal germ tube. The effects of different pyranose sugars, all analogues of d-glucose, on the germination of A. niger conidia were explored, and we define germination as the transition from a dormant conidium into a germling. Within germination, we distinguish two distinct stages, the initial swelling of the conidium and subsequent polarized growth. The stage of conidial swelling requires a germination trigger, which we define as a compound that is sensed by the conidium and which leads to catabolism of d-trehalose and isotropic growth. Sugars that triggered germination and outgrowth included d-glucose, d-mannose, and d-xylose. Sugars that triggered germination but did not support subsequent outgrowth included d-tagatose, d-lyxose, and 2-deoxy-d-glucose. Nontriggering sugars included d-galactose, l-glucose, and d-arabinose. Certain nontriggering sugars, including d-galactose, supported outgrowth if added in the presence of a complementary triggering sugar. This division of functions indicates that sugars are involved in two separate events in germination, triggering and subsequent outgrowth, and the structural features of sugars that support each, both, or none of these events are discussed. We also present data on the uptake of sugars during the germination process and discuss possible mechanisms of triggering in the absence of apparent sugar uptake during the initial swelling of conidia.

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