Food Safety Research Information Office
Title:Protective Endophytes of Maize That Inhibit Fungal Pathogens and Reduce Mycotoxin Contamination

The overall goal of this research is to understand how selected ecological groups of symptomless fungal endophytes from maize interact with kernel rotting pathogens and apply this knowledge to reduce disease severity and mycotoxin contamination of the grain. The results obtained through these objectives should produce novel strategies for preventing pathogen related losses in corn productivity and grain quality in a changing global environment. Specific objectives are:

Objective 1: Examine the biocontrol potential of Acremonium zeae in providing an effective defense against mycotoxin producing kernel rotting fungi.

Objective 2: Discover and characterize metabolites produced by fungal endophytes and pathogens of cereals that support symptomless infection and survival.

Objective 3: Characterize fungal endophyte diversity in maize and develop phylogenetic systems to predict the role of novel endophytes in host-pathogen interactions.

Objective 4: Determine the production and bioactivity of chitinase modifying proteins (cmp) among common fungal endophytes and pathogens of maize and examine their role in seed pathology.

More Info:
Approach: Mycotoxins produced by ear and kernel rotting fungal pathogens of corn are associated with economic losses to maize growers, grain handlers, livestock and poultry producers, and food and feed processors. The safety of mycotoxin-contaminated cereals and cereal products consumed directly by humans as well as mycotoxin residues in animal products is of critical importance to the agri-food industries and regulatory agencies worldwide. No commercial corn hybrid is able to escape aflatoxin or fumonisin contamination when exposed to extensive insect damage, high evening temperatures during kernel filling, or drought. The fungi recorded as symptomless endophytes of corn plants and grain prior to harvest belong to ecologically specialized groups whose interactions potentially influence disease development yet they remain poorly understood. The research proposes to provide new information and strategies for controlling mycotoxin production through: Investigations on the biocontrol potential of the protective endophyte Acremonium zeae; the discovery and analysis of metabolites and proteins that enable endophytes and pathogens to circumvent plant defenses or inhibit competing organisms; an examination of yeast populations in interactions with insects and other fungi; an evaluation of Penicillium subgenus Biverticillium species, known hyperparasites of plant pathogenic fungi; investigations of resistant and susceptible forms of a fungal targeted maize seed chitinase that is presumed to function in protecting seeds from pathogenic fungi; and the development of sorting systems to identify pathogen-specific symptoms of kernel infection and potential mycotoxin contamination. The potential to exploit this poorly understood endophyte-host relationship offers significant promise for protecting corn plants or harvested grain from seedling infection or mycotoxin contamination.
Funding Source:United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Start Date:2011
End Date:2016
Project Number:3620-42000-043-00
Accession Number:421046
Institutions:USDA/ARS - Midwest Area
Investigators:Kurtzman, Cletus
Naumann, Todd
Peterson, Stephen
Wicklow, Donald
Project Reports:2013 Annual Report
2012 Annual Report
2011 Annual Report
Published Journal
Articles USDA
ARS (NP 108):
Polyglycine hydrolases secreted by Pleosporineae fungi that target the linker region of plant class IV chitinases
Naumann TA, Wicklow DT, Price NP.
Biochem J. 2014 Jun 1;460(2):187-98.
Crystallographic structure of ChitA, a glycoside hydrolase family 19, plant class IV chitinase from Zea mays
Chaedet MM, Naumann TA, Price NPJ, Rose DR.
Protein Sci. 2014 May;23(5):586-93.
Diplodiatoxin, chaetoglobosins, and diplonine associated with a field outbreak of Stenocarpella ear rot in Illinois
Rogers KD, Cannistra JC, Gloer JB, Wicklow DT.
Mycotoxin Res. 2014 May;30(2):61-70.
Talaromcyes columbinus sp. nov., and genealogical concordance analysis in Talaromcyes clade 2a
Peterson, S.W., Jurjevic, Z. .
PLoS One. 2013 Oct;8(10):e78084.
Chitinase modifying proteins from phylogenetically distinct lineages of Brassica pathogens
Naumann TA, Wicklow DT.
Physiol Mol Plant Pathol. 2013 Apr;82:1-9.
Truncation of class IV chitinases from Arabidopsis by secreted fungal proteases
Naumann TA, Price NP.
Mol Plant Pathol. 2012 Dec;13(9):1135-9.
Citeromyces hawaiiensis sp. nov., an ascosporic yeast associated with Myoporum sandwicense
Kurtzman CP.
Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2012 May;62:1215-9.
Fungal bis-naphthopyrones as inhibitors of botulinum neurotoxin serotype A
Cardellina J, Roxas-Duncan V, Montgomery V, Eccard V, Campbell Y, Hu X, Khavrutskii I, Tawa G, Wallqvist A, Gloer J, Phatak N, Hoeller U, Soman A, Joshi B, Hein S, Wicklow D, Smith L .
ACS Med Chem Lett. 2012 Apr 2;3(5):387-91.
Aflaquinolones A-G: secondary metabolites from marine and fungicolous isolates of Aspergillus spp
Neff SA, Lee SU, Asami Y, Ahn JS, Oh H, Baltrusaitis J, Gloer JB, Wicklow DT.
J Nat Prod. 2012 Mar 23;75(3):464-72.
Phylogeny and nomenclature of the genus Talaromyces and taxa accommodated in Penicillium subgenus Biverticillium
Samson RA, Yilmaz N, Houbraken J, Spierenburg H, Seifert KA, Peterson SW, Varga J, Frisvad JC.
Stud Mycol. 2011 Nov 15;70(1):159-83.
Identification of a chitinase-modifying protein from Fusarium verticillioides: truncation of a host resistance protein by a fungalysin metalloprotease
Naumann TA, Wicklow DT, Price NP.
J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 14;286(41):35358-66.
New species in Aspergillus section Terrei
Samson RA, Peterson SW, Frisvad JC, Varga J.
Stud Mycol. 2011 Jun 30;69(1):39-55.
Non-Journal Publications:
Co-evolution of chitinases from maize and other cereals with secreted proteases from Pleosporineae fungi - (Abstract Only)
Accepted Publication (24-Jul-13)
Biochemistry of plant class IV chitinases and fungal chitinase-modifying proteins - (Abstract Only)
Naumann, T.A., Wicklow, D.T., Price, N.P. 2012. Biochemistry of plant class IV chitinases and fungal chitinase-modifying proteins. American Society of Plant Biologists Annual Meeting.
Aspergillus section Versicolores: nine new species and multilocus DNA sequence based phylogeny - (Abstract Only)
Peterson, S.W., Jurjevic, Z., Horn, B.W. 2012. Aspergillus section Versicolores: nine new species and multilocus DNA sequence based phylogeny. Mycological Society of America. 3(1):59-79
Interpreting diplodiosis: bioactive metabolites in Stenocarpella maydis ear rot of maize - (Abstract Only)
Wicklow, D.T., Rogers, K., Gloer, J. 2012. Interpreting diplodiosis: bioactive metabolites in Stenocarpella maydis ear rot of maize. Meeting Abstract.
Proposal to conserve the name Talaromyces over Lasioderma - (Other)
Seifert, K.A., Frisvad, J.C., Houbraken, J., Llimona, X., Peterson, S.W., Samson, R.A., Visagie, C.M. 2012. Proposal to conserve the name Talaromyces over Lasioderma. Taxon. 61(2):461-462.
Food Safety Categories:On-Farm Food Safety
Sanitation and Pathogen Control
Pathogen Biology
Plant Science & Plant Products
Farm-to-Table Categories:On-farm food production
Return to Search Results