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J Bacteriol. 1967 Apr;93(4):1276-80.

Melanins and resistance of fungi to lysis.


Hyphal walls of Aspergillus phoenicis and Sclerotium rolfsii are composed of large amounts of glucose- and N-acetylhexosamine-containing polysaccharides, and the walls are extensively digested by streptomycete culture filtrates or by a mixture of purified chitinase and beta-(1 --> 3) glucanase preparations with the release of the monomeric units. A. phoenicis conidial walls also contain polymers of glucose and N-acetylhexosamine, but these walls are resistant to digestion by microorganisms or the enzyme combination active on the hyphae. When the melanin-containing spicules were removed from the spore surface, however, the chitinase and glucanase partially digested the underlying structural components. Microorganisms decomposing hyphal walls of S. rolfsii did not attack the melanin-covered sclerotia produced by this fungus. No microorganism capable of lysing two fungi, Rhizoctonia solani and Cladosporium sp., producing hyphae containing abundant melanin was found. The ecological significance of these findings and possible mechanisms for the protective influence associated with melanins are discussed.

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