Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 119–124 | Cite as

Studies on growth inhibition by lectins of penicillia and aspergilli

  • Rivka Barkai-Golan
  • David Mirelman
  • Nathan Sharon


It has previously been shown in our laboratory that wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) binds to Trichoderma viride and inhibits growth of this fungus. Here we report on the effect of WGA, soybean agglutinin (SBA) and peanut agglutinin (PNA) on Penicillia and Aspergilli. Binding of the lectins to the fungi was examined with the aid of their fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) conjugated derivatives. FITC-WGA bound to young hyphal walls of all species, in particular to the hyphal tips and septa, in agreement with the chitinous composition of the cell walls of the two genera. Hyphae of all species examined were labelled, though in different patterns, by FITC-SBA and FITC-PNA, suggesting the presence of galactose residues on their surfaces. Young conidiophores, metulae (of the Penicillia), vesicles (of the Aspergilli), sterigmata and young spores, were also labelled. The three lectins inhibited incorporation of [3H]acetate, N-acetyl-D-[3H]glucosamine and D-[14C]galactose into young hyphae of Aspergillus ochraceus, indicating interference with fungal growth. Inhibition of spore germination by the three lectins was also observed. Preincubation of the lectins with their specific saccharide inhibitors prevented binding and the inhibitory effects. We conclude that lectins are useful tools for the study of fungal cell surfaces, and may also serve as an important aid in fungal classification. The present findings also support the suggestion that one role of lectins in plants is protection against fungal pathogens.

Key words

Lectins Fluorescin-conjugated lectins Fungal cell walls Inhibition of fungal growth Penicillium italicum Aspergillus niger Aspergillus flavus Aspergillus ochraceus Stemphylium botryosum Role of lectins in plants 


Con A

concanavalin A


peanut agglutinin


soybean agglutinin


wheat germ agglutinin


fluorescein isothiocyanate






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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rivka Barkai-Golan
    • 1
  • David Mirelman
    • 1
  • Nathan Sharon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiophysicsThe Weizmann Institute of ScienceRehovothIsrael

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