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Antifungal Effect of Saussurea lappa Roots Against Phytopathogenic Fungi and Resulting Morphological and Ultrastructural Changes

Fungizide Wirkung von Saussurea lappa-Wurzeln gegen phytopathogene Pilze und resultierende morphologische und ultrastrukturelle Veränderungen


Phytopathogenic fungi infect plants during growth, development, and harvest and their products during postharvest storage and transport. Fungicides are applied indiscriminately to combat these pathogens, posing a serious threat to humans, animals, and the environment. Some filamentous fungi also produce mycotoxins, which pose further problems. In this study we evaluated the antifungal activity of Saussurea lappa root extracts against several potent phytopathogenic fungi (Fusarium solani, F. moniliforme, F. oxysporum, Helminthosporium sativum, and Macrophomina phaseoloni). Various solvent extracts (methanol, ethanol, dichloromethane, ethyl acetate, and water) of the S. lappa root were used. We found that methanol, ethanol, and dichloromethane extracts had potent antifungal activity against all tested isolates. M. phaseolina showed the highest inhibition (89%) with a 5% methanol extract of S. lappa, and severe damage to the morphology and ultrastructure of its cells was also observed. SEM micrographs revealed that cells treated with S. lappa extracts had distorted, peeled, twisted, and shortened mycelium and peeled, completely distorted, and underdeveloped conidia. Moreover, the dichloromethane S. lappa extract (5%) arrested conidial development completely. Similarly, TEM studies showed that treated cells lacked clear demarcations between the cell membrane and cell wall, and had heavy vacuolation, a detached cytoplasm, ruptured and distorted mycelium and conidia, and a clear deposition of electron dense granules on the outer surface. GC-MS and FTIR studies indicated the presence of important bioactive compounds and functional groups in the extracts. Our results indicate that Slappa roots are a rich source of bioactive compounds that can affect the integrity, stability, and structure of the fungal cell membrane, ultimately leading to cell death. Thus, root extracts could serve as eco-friendly, safe alternatives to the fungicides that are applied at both the harvest and postharvest stages.


Phytopathogene Pilze infizieren Pflanzen während des Wachstums, der Entwicklung und der Ernte und die Pflanzenprodukte während der Lagerung und des Transports nach der Ernte. Fungizide werden unkontrolliert zur Bekämpfung dieser Krankheitserreger eingesetzt und stellen eine ernsthafte Bedrohung für Mensch, Tier und Umwelt dar. Einige filamentöse Pilze produzieren auch Mykotoxine, die weitere Probleme bereiten. In dieser Studie haben wir die antimykotische Aktivität von Saussurea Lappa-Wurzelextrakten gegen mehrere starke phytopathogene Pilze (Fusarium solani, F. moniliforme, F. oxysporum, Helminthosporium sativum und Macrophomina phaseoloni) untersucht. Verwendet wurden verschiedene Lösungsmittelextrakte (Methanol, Ethanol, Dichlormethan, Ethylacetat und Wasser) der S. lappa-Wurzel. Wir fanden heraus, dass Methanol‑, Ethanol- und Dichlormethanextrakte eine starke antimykotische Wirkung gegen alle getesteten Isolate haben. M. phaseolina zeigte die höchste Hemmung (89 %) bei Behandlung mit einem 5 %igen Methanolextrakt aus S. lappa, weiterhin wurden schwere Schäden an der Morphologie und Ultrastruktur der Zellen beobachtet. Rasterelektronenmikroskopische Aufnahmen zeigten, dass die Zellen, die mit S. lappa-Extrakten behandelt wurden, ein verformtes, abgelöstes, verdrehtes und verkürztes Myzel aufwiesen sowie abgelöste, vollständig verformte und unterentwickelte Konidien. Darüber hinaus hemmte der Dichlormethanextrakt (5 %) die konidiale Entwicklung vollständig. Ebenso zeigten transmissionselektronenmikroskopische Studien, dass behandelte Zellen keine klaren Abgrenzungen zwischen Zellmembran und Zellwand, eine starke Vakuolenbildung sowie ein abgelöstes Zytoplasma aufwiesen. Myzel und Konidien waren gerissen und verformt, auf der Außenfläche waren elektronendichte Granulate zu finden. GC-MS- und FTIR-Studien belegten das Vorhandensein wichtiger bioaktiver Verbindungen und Funktionsgruppen in den Extrakten. Unsere Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass S. lappa-Wurzeln eine reichhaltige Quelle an bioaktiven Verbindungen darstellen, die die Integrität, Stabilität und Struktur der Pilzzellmembran beeinträchtigen können, was letztendlich zum Zelltod führt. So könnten Wurzelextrakte als umweltfreundliche, sichere Alternative zu den Fungiziden dienen, die sowohl in der Ernte- als auch in der Nacherntephase angewendet werden.

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This Research Project was supported by a grant from the “Research Centre of the Centre for Female Scientific and Medical Colleges”, Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University through a research group No (SMRC-1904).

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Correspondence to Humaira Rizwana.

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F. Al Otibi, H. Rizwana, R.I. Alharbi, N. Alshaikh and G. Albasher declare that they have no competing interests.

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Al Otibi, F., Rizwana, H., Alharbi, R.I. et al. Antifungal Effect of Saussurea lappa Roots Against Phytopathogenic Fungi and Resulting Morphological and Ultrastructural Changes. Gesunde Pflanzen 72, 57–67 (2020).

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  • Saussurea lappa
  • Bioactive compounds
  • GC-MS
  • FTIR
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Transmission electron microscopy


  • Saussurea lappa
  • Bioaktive Verbindungen
  • GC-MS
  • FTIR
  • Rasterelektronenmikroskopie
  • Transmissionselektronenmikroskopie