Evaluation of Aspergillus aculeatus GC-09 for the biological control of citrus blue mold caused by Penicillium italicum
Fungal Biol. 2022 Mar;126(3):201-212. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2021.12.006. Epub 2022 Jan 2.
Blue mold caused by Penicillium italicum is a severe postharvest disease in citrus fruits. In this study, the fermentation product (FP-E) of Aspergillus aculeatus GC-09, an endophytic fungus isolated from a citrus plant, was found to exhibit antifungal activity against P. italicum with a MIC of 0.3125 mg/mL. The fungus A. aculeatus GC-09 was identified based on the studies of morphology and ITS nucleotide sequence. FP-E significantly inhibited the spore germination and mycelial growth of P. italicum. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) results of P. italicum treated with FP-E showed shrunken, distorted and collapsed hyphae and conidiospores, indicative of the cell membrane damage, which was further confirmed by the propidium iodide (PI) fluorescent staining analysis. Consistent with the microscopy observation, FP-E led to the leakage of cellular constituents from P. italicum, which is evident from the increase in electrical conductivity and nucleic acid contents in the mycelial solution incubated with FP-E. In addition, FP-E treatment considerably increased the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) content, and reduced the enzyme activities of both catalase (CAT) and peroxidase (POD) in P. italicum cells. Furthermore, orange fruits treated with FP-E showed fewer disease symptoms compared to the untreated fruits. These results suggested that the antifungal activity of FP-E might be associated with the disruption of cell membrane integrity, the accumulation of ROS level, and the reduction of the antioxidant enzymes activity of P. italicum. Therefore, A. aculeatus GC-09 might be a potential microbial resource for the biocontrol of citrus postharvest blue mold.