pH Regulation of Sterigmatocystin and Aflatoxin Biosynthesis in Aspergillus spp

Phytopathology. 1997 Jun;87(6):643-8. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO.1997.87.6.643.

Abstract

ABSTRACT Aflatoxin (AF) and sterigmatocystin (ST) are toxic secondary metabolites produced by the same biochemical pathway found in several Aspergillus spp. The expression of the homologous ST/AF structural gene, stcU in A. nidulans and ver-1 in A. parasiticus, was affected by external pH of liquid growth media. Both stcU and ver-1 mRNAs appeared earlier and were expressed at higher levels in cultures grown in acidic media (pH 4 to 6) versus neutral (pH 7) and alkali (pH 8) media. Transcript levels correlated with ST/AF production. Visual and spectrophotometric analysis of production of the orange ST/AF intermediate, norsolorinic acid (NOR), also paralleled transcript patterns and indicated that the pH effects were operative in different nitrogen- and carbon-based solid growth media. Five- to 10-fold increases in ST, AF, and NOR were measured in cultures grown in pH 4 or 5 versus pH 8 media. An A. nidulans strain carrying a mutation resulting in constitutive activity of the pH regulatory factor, PacC, produced 10-fold less ST than did wild type. The stcU transcript was not noticeably affected by pH in this strain. The results suggest a general pattern of pH regulation of ST/AF biosynthesis that may override previously noted carbon and nitrogen effects.