Identification of N,N′,N″-triacetylfusarinine C as a key metabolite for root rot disease virulence in American ginseng


Walsh, J.P., DesRochers, N., Renaud, J.B., Seifert, K.A., Yeung, K.K.C., Sumarah, M.W. (2021). Identification of N,N′,N″-triacetylfusarinine C as a key metabolite for root rot disease virulence in American ginseng. Journal of Ginseng Research, [online] 45(1), 156-162.

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Ginseng is an important crop for farmers in Ontario and other parts of Canada. It takes 4 years for roots to grow to maturity, during this time they are highly susceptible to fungal disease such as root rot. In this study we identified a new compound from the fungus Ilyonectria, which causes root rot. This compound is needed to bind iron, which is used by the fungus for growth and was determined to be an important virulence factor for the fungus. This discovery provides the bases for future work that allows us to target this mechanism as a means of controlling root rot.


Background: It is estimated that 20–30% of ginseng crops in Canada are lost to root rot each harvest. This disease is commonly caused by fungal infection with Ilyonectria, previously known as Cylindrocarpon. Previous reports have linked the virulence of fungal disease to the production of siderophores, a class of small-molecule iron chelators. However, these siderophores have not been identified in Ilyonectria. Methods: High-resolution LC–MS/MS was used to screen Ilyonectria and Cylindrocarpon strain extracts for secondary metabolite production. These strains were also tested for their ability to cause root rot in American ginseng and categorized as virulent or avirulent. The differences in detected metabolites between the virulent and avirulent strains were compared with a focus on siderophores. Results: For the first time, a siderophore N,N′,N″-triacetylfusarinine C (TAFC) has been identified in Ilyonectria, and it appears to be linked to disease virulence. Siderophore production was suppressed as the concentration of iron increased, which is in agreement with previous reports. Conclusion: The identification of the siderophore produced by Ilyonectria gives us further insight into the root rot disease that heavily affects ginseng crop yields. This research identifies a molecular pathway previously unknown for ginseng root rot and could lead to new disease treatment options.

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