A Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) protein in Neosartorya fischeri confers protection against desiccation

Martin Richard van Leeuwen, Timon T Wyatt, Tineke M van Doorn, Jan Dijksterhuis

Author address: 

Applied and Industrial Mycology, CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Utrecht, Netherlands


Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins were first characterized in cotton and wheat and are synthesized in abundance during the late maturation stage of seed development. As the seed matures, water content decreases greatly inducing severe desiccation stress. Expression of LEA proteins is linked to the acquisition of desiccation tolerance. Using BLAST to search for LEA like proteins in various filamentous fungal genomes (Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Emericella nidulans, Penicillium chrysogenum, Talaromyces stipitatus and Neosartorya fischeri) resulted in orthologs in each mentioned species, indicating the wide spread appearance of LEA proteins in fungi. Ascospores produced by N. fischeri are able to survive long periods under various stressors. However, deletion of the LEA gene resulted in diminished tolerance against desiccation and high temperatures. In addition, heterologous expression of LEA in Escherichia coli conferred increased tolerance against osmotic- and salt stress. Interestingly, LEA was able to function as protectant for enzymes that normally lose activity under influence of stress. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was inactivated by heat stress and freeze-thaw cycles. In the presence of LEA, LDH activity was maintained. Our results show that LEA are wide spread in filamentous fungi and function in tolerance against stressors like heat, freeze-thaw and desiccation. LEA could play an important role in stress tolerance of survival propagules like ascospores and conidia

abstract No: 


Full conference title: 

27th Fungal Genetics Conference
    • Fungal Genetics Conference 27th (2013)