Local modulation of host pH by Colletotrichum species as a mechanism to increase virulence

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2001 Sep;14(9):1105-13. doi: 10.1094/MPMI.2001.14.9.1105.


The phytopathogenic fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides produces one pectate lyase (PL) that is a key virulence factor in disease development. During growth of C. gloeosporioides, Colletotrichum acutatum, and Colletotrichum coccodes in acidified yeast extract medium, the fungus secreted ammonia and increased the medium pH. Ammonia accumulation and the consequent pH change increased as a function of initial pH and buffer capacity of the medium. PL secretion by C. gloeosporioides correspondingly increased as the pH of the medium increased. The C. gloeosporioides pelB gene-disrupted mutant was able to increase ammonia accumulation and pH of the media similarly to the wild-type isolate. C. gloeosporioides in avocado, C. coccodes in tomato, and C. acutatum in apple showed ammonia accumulation in the infected area where pH increased to 7.5 to 8 and PL activity is optima. In nonhost interactions where C. gloeosporioides was inoculated in apples, the addition of ammonia-releasing compounds significantly enhanced pathogenicity to levels similar to those caused by the compatible C. acutatum-apple interaction. The results therefore suggest the importance of ammonia secretion as a virulence factor, enhancing environmental pH and pathogenicity of the Colletotrichum species.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / metabolism
  • Colletotrichum / genetics
  • Colletotrichum / growth & development
  • Colletotrichum / metabolism*
  • Colletotrichum / pathogenicity*
  • Fruit / metabolism*
  • Fruit / microbiology*
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / microbiology
  • Malus / metabolism
  • Malus / microbiology
  • Mutation
  • Persea / metabolism
  • Persea / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Polysaccharide-Lyases / genetics
  • Polysaccharide-Lyases / metabolism
  • Virulence


  • Ammonia
  • Polysaccharide-Lyases
  • pectin lyase B
  • pectate lyase