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Isolation and characterization of a melanin from Rhizoctonia solani, the causal agent of rice sheath blight

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Melanins are pigments produced by a broad variety of microorganisms including some pathogenic fungi and bacteria. This study was undertaken to isolate and identify a black pigment produced by Rhizoctonia solani, the causal agent of rice sheath blight. The profile of transmission electron microscopy showed that the cell walls of the rind tissue from black sclerotia were heavily pigmented. The black pigment was designated as Rs-melanin based on the physical and chemical properties, including its ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) spectra. The physical and chemical characteristics of Rs-melanin were similar to those of commercial synthetic melanin. The effects of physical and chemical factors on the stability of Rs-melanin were examined. Results indicated that Rs-melanin was greatly affected by pH values, and bleached by strong oxidant. Precursors (shikimic acid and catechol) and inhibitors (tricyclazole and kojic acid) of the four biosynthetic pathways of known melanins were tested for their ability to promote or inhibit the synthesis of Rs-melanin. Catechol, an intermediate of the catechol pathway, was found to induce Rs-melanin deposition in the hyphal walls of R. solani when the tested strain was cultured on catechol-amended medium, suggesting that Rs-melanin was a kind of catechol melanin.

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This work was supported by a grant from National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31271994) awarded to Erxun Zhou. The authors are grateful to the China National Analytical Center, Guangzhou, China for its technical assistance and infrared spectroscopy facility support.

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Correspondence to Erxun Zhou.

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Chen, J., Wang, C., Shu, C. et al. Isolation and characterization of a melanin from Rhizoctonia solani, the causal agent of rice sheath blight. Eur J Plant Pathol 142, 281–290 (2015).

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