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Differential effects of condensed and hydrolyzable tannin on polyphenol oxidase activity of attine symbiotic fungus



Differential effects of condensed and hydrolyzable tannin on polyphenol oxidase activity of attine symbiotic fungus



Journal of Chemical Ecology 17(9): 1811-1819



The leaf-cutting ant Atta cephalotes is a generalist herbivore of the neotropics and collects leaf material to cultivate a fungus. It appears that this fungus, a Basidiomycete, is responsible for the ability of the ants to utilize most of the available woody plant species. Tannins and other phenolics are ubiquitous secondary chemicals in woody plants, and Basidiomycete fungi produce enzymes, such as polyphenol oxidase, that are capable of polymerizing and inactivating the phenolics. This study evaluates the effects of a condensed and a hydrolyzable tannin on the activity of polyphenol oxidase and the growth of the fungus. I hypothesized that low concentrations of tannin would not inhibit polyphenol oxidase activity but high concentrations would inhibit the enzyme. Consequently, I predicted that only high concentrations of tannin would inhibit fungal growth, Laboratory assays with the fungus indicated that hydrolyzable tannin (tannic acid) and condensed tannin (quebracho tannin) differ in the mechanism of inhibition. Tannic acid does not inhibit polyphenol oxidase activity but does inhibit fungal growth. Quebracho tannin, however, inhibits both polyphenol oxidase activity and fungal growth. As predicted, both tannic acid and quebracho tannin primarily inhibit the fungus at high concentrations.

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Accession: 002072580

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24257922

DOI: 10.1007/BF00993730


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