, Volume 179, Issue 1, pp 61-66

The mycorrhizal fungus Amanita muscaria induces chitinase activity in roots and in suspension-cultured cells of its host Picea abies

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A cell-wall fraction of the mycorrhizal fungus Amanita muscaria increased the chitinase activity in suspension-cultured cells of spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) which is a frequent host of Amanita muscaria in nature. Chitinase activity was also increased in roots of spruce trees upon incubation with the fungal elicitor. Non-induced levels of chitinase activity in spruce were higher in suspension cells than in roots whereas the elicitorinduced increase of chitinase activity was higher in roots. Treatment of cells with hormones (auxins and cytokinin) resulted in a severalfold depression of enzyme activity. However, the chitinase activity of hormone-treated as well as hormone-free cells showed an elicitor-induced increase. Suspension cells of spruce secreted a large amount of enzyme into the medium. It is postulated that chitinases released from the host cells in an ectomycorrhizal system partly degrade the fungal cell walls, thus possibly facilitating the exchange of metabolites between the symbionts.