Trichoderma harzianum is a widely distributed soil fungus that antagonizes numerous fungal phytopathogens. The antagonism of T. harzianum usually correlates with the production of antifungal activities including the secretion of fungal cell walls that degrade enzymes such as chitinases. Chitinases Chit42 and Chit33 from T. harzianum CECT 2413, which lack a chitin-binding domain, are considered to play an important role in the biocontrol activity of this strain against plant pathogens. By adding a cellulose-binding domain (CBD) from cellobiohydrolase II of Trichoderma reesei to these enzymes, hybrid chitinases Chit33-CBD and Chit42-CBD with stronger chitin-binding capacity than the native chitinases have been engineered. Transformants that overexpressed the native chitinases displayed higher levels of chitinase specific activity and were more effective at inhibiting the growth of Rhizoctonia solani, Botrytis cinerea and Phytophthora citrophthora than the wild type. Transformants that overexpressed the chimeric chitinases possessed the highest specific chitinase and antifungal activities. The results confirm the importance of these endochitinases in the antagonistic activity of T. harzianum strains, and demonstrate the effectiveness of adding a CBD to increase hydrolytic activity towards insoluble substrates such as chitin-rich fungal cell walls.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology