The Impact of Steroidal Glycoalkaloids on the Physiology of Phytophthora infestans, the Causative Agent of Potato Late Blight

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2017 Jul;30(7):531-542. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-09-16-0186-R. Epub 2017 May 16.


Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) are plant secondary metabolites known to be toxic to animals and humans and that have putative roles in defense against pests. The proposed mechanisms of SGA toxicity are sterol-mediated disruption of membranes and inhibition of cholinesterase activity in neurons. It has been suggested that phytopathogenic microorganisms can overcome SGA toxicity by enzymatic deglycosylation of SGAs. Here, we have explored SGA-mediated toxicity toward the invasive oomycete Phytophthora infestans, the causative agent of the late blight disease in potato and tomato, as well as the potential for SGA deglycosylation by this species. Our growth studies indicate that solanidine, the nonglycosylated precursor of the potato SGAs α-chaconine and α-solanine, has a greater physiological impact than its glycosylated forms. All of these compounds were incorporated into the mycelium, but only solanidine could strongly inhibit the growth of P. infestans in liquid culture. Genes encoding several glycoside hydrolases with potential activity on SGAs were identified in the genome of P. infestans and were shown to be expressed. However, we found no indication that deglycosylation of SGAs takes place. We present additional evidence for apparent host-specific adaptation to potato SGAs and assess all results in terms of future pathogen management strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Diosgenin / chemistry
  • Diosgenin / pharmacology
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / genetics
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / drug effects
  • Molecular Structure
  • Mycelium / drug effects*
  • Mycelium / genetics
  • Mycelium / physiology
  • Phytophthora infestans / drug effects*
  • Phytophthora infestans / genetics
  • Phytophthora infestans / physiology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Solanaceous Alkaloids / chemistry
  • Solanaceous Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Solanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Solanine / chemistry
  • Solanine / pharmacology
  • Solanum lycopersicum / microbiology
  • Solanum tuberosum / microbiology
  • Steroids / chemistry
  • Steroids / pharmacology*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Solanaceous Alkaloids
  • Steroids
  • alpha-solanine
  • Solanine
  • alpha-chaconine
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • Diosgenin
  • solanidine