• perylenequinone;
  • phytotoxins;
  • secondary metabolites;
  • singlet oxygen (1O2);
  • superoxide (inline image)


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    Elsinochromes are the red/orange pigments produced by many Elsinoë fungal species and are structurally similar to the phytotoxin, cercosporin. Here, pigments were extracted from cultures of a citrus pathogen, Elsinoë fawcettii and tested for cellular toxicity.
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    On irradiation with light, elsinochromes rapidly killed suspension cultured citrus and tobacco cells. The toxicity was decreased by adding the singlet oxygen (1O2) quenchers (bixin (carotenoid carboxylic acid), DABCO (1, 4-diazabicyco octane), ascorbate or reduced glutathione). Application of elsinochromes onto rough lemon leaves resulted in necrotic lesions, whereas lesion development was inhibited by the addition of bixin, DABCO or ascorbate, but not a-tocopherol. Incubation of rough lemon leaf discs with elsinochromes in the light induced a steady increase of electrolyte leakage.
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    Compared with two photosensitizing compounds, hematoporphyrin and cercosporin, the accumulation of 1O2 induced by elsinochromes after irradiation was indicated by successful detection of the cholesterol oxidation product, 5a-hydroperoxide. Addition of a potent quencher, b-carotene prevented 5a-hydroperoxide production. Elsinochromes generated superoxide ions (inline image), whereas accumulation of inline image was blocked by addition of the superoxide dismutase, a scavenger of inline image, but not the 1O2-quencher, DABCO.
  •  Our study indicated that elsinochromes are functioning as photosensitizing compounds that produce 1O2 and inline image, and exert toxicity to plant cells.