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FEMS Yeast Res. 2014 Jun;14(4):536-46. doi: 10.1111/1567-1364.12139. Epub 2014 Feb 18.

Phenylethanol promotes adhesion and biofilm formation of the antagonistic yeast Kloeckera apiculata for the control of blue mold on citrus.

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National Center of Citrus Breeding, Key Laboratory of Horticultural Plant Biology of Ministry of Education, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China; Key Laboratory of Pomology, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei, China.


The yeast Kloeckera apiculata strain 34-9 is an antagonist with biological control activity against postharvest diseases of citrus fruit. In a previous study it was demonstrated that K. apiculata produced the aromatic alcohol phenylethanol. In the present study, we found that K. apiculata was able to form biofilm on citrus fruit and embed in an extracellular matrix, which created a mechanical barrier interposed between the wound surface and pathogen. As a quorum-sensing molecule, phenylethanol can promote the formation of filaments by K. apiculata in potato dextrose agar medium, whereas on the citrus fruit, the antagonist remains as yeast after being treated with the same concentration of phenylethanol. It only induced K. apiculata to adhere and form biofilm. Following genome-wide computational and experimental identification of the possible genes associated with K. apiculata adhesion, we identified nine genes possibly involved in triggering yeast adhesion. Six of these genes were significantly induced after phenylethanol stress treatment. This study provides a new model system of the biology of the antagonist-pathogen interactions that occur in the antagonistic yeast K. apiculata for the control of blue mold on citrus caused by Penicillium italicum.


adhesion; antagonist-pathogen interaction; biofilm; biological control; phenylethanol; quorum-sensing

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