Release of Dimethylsulfide From Dimethylsulfoniopropionate by Plant-Associated Salt Marsh Fungi

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Apr;64(4):1484-9.


The range of types of microbes with dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) lyase capability (enzymatic release of dimethylsulfide [DMS] from DMSP) has recently been expanded from bacteria and eukaryotic algae to include fungi (a species of the genus Fusarium [M. K. Bacic and D. C. Yoch, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64:106-111, 1998]). Fungi (especially ascomycetes) are the predominant decomposers of shoots of smooth cordgrass, the principal grass of Atlantic salt marshes of the United States. Since the high rates of release of DMS from smooth cordgrass marshes have a temporal peak that coincides with peak shoot death, we hypothesized that cordgrass fungi were involved in this DMS release. We tested seven species of the known smooth cordgrass ascomycetes and discovered that six of them exhibited DMSP lyase activity. We also tested two species of ascomycetes from other DMSP-containing plants, and both were DMSP lyase competent. For comparison, we tested 11 species of ascomycetes and mitosporic fungi from halophytes that do not contain DMSP; of these 11, only 3 were positive for DMSP lyase. A third group tested, marine oomycotes (four species of the genera Halophytophthora and Pythium, mostly from mangroves), showed no DMSP lyase activity. Two of the strains of fungi found to be positive for DMSP lyase also exhibited uptake of DMS, an apparently rare combination of capabilities. In conclusion, a strong correlation exists between a fungal decomposer's ability to catabolize DMSP via the DMSP lyase pathway and the host plant's production of DMSP as a secondary product.