Antifungal mechanism of 1-nonanol against Aspergillus flavus growth revealed by metabolomic analyses
Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 Sep 22. doi: 10.1007/s00253-021-11581-8. Online ahead of print.
Chemical control of fungal spoilage of postharvest cereal grains is an important strategy for the management of grain storage. Here, the potential antifungal activity of 1-nonanol, a main component of cereal volatiles, against Aspergillus flavus was studied. The growth of A. flavus was completely inhibited by 0.11 and 0.20 μL/mL 1-nonanol at vapor and liquid contact phases, respectively. Metabolomic analysis identified 135 metabolites whose expression was significantly different between 1-nonanol-treated and untreated A. flavus. These metabolites were involved in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, amino acid biosynthesis, protein degradation and absorption, aminoacyl-tRNA biosynthesis, mineral absorption, and in interactions with ABC transporters. Biochemical validation confirmed the disruptive effect of 1-nonanol on A. flavus growth, as indicated by the leakage of intracellular electrolytes, decreased succinate dehydrogenase, mitochondrial dehydrogenase, and ATPase activity, and the accumulation of reactive oxygen species. We speculated that 1-nonanol could disrupt cell membrane integrity and mitochondrial function and might induce apoptosis of A. flavus mycelia. Simulated grain storage experiments showed that 1-nonanol vapor, at a concentration of 264 μL/L, completely inhibited A. flavus growth in wheat, corn, and paddy grain with an 18% moisture content. This study provides new insights into the antifungal mechanism of 1-nonanol against A. flavus, indicating that it has a promising potential as a bio-preservative to prevent fungal spoilage of postharvest grains. KEY POINTS: • 1-Nonanol showed higher antifungal activity against A. flavus. • The antifungal mechanisms of 1-nonanol against A. flavus were revealed. • 1-Nonanol could damage cell membrane integrity and mitochondrial function.