Physical interactions of filamentous fungal spores and unicellular fungi

Hart, Rodney S. (Rodney Sebastian) (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2006-04)

Thesis (MSc)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: It is known that many hyphomycetous fungi are dispersed by wind, water and insects. However, very little is known about how these fungi may differ from each other regarding their ability to be disseminated by different environmental vectors. Consequently, to obtain an indication of the primary means of spore dispersal employed by representatives of the genera Acremonium, Aspergillus and Penicillium, isolated from soil and indoor environments, we monitored spore liberation of cultures representing these genera in an airflow cell. The experimental data obtained, of plate counts conducted of the air at the outlet of the airflow cell, were subjected to an appropriate analysis of variance (ANOVA), using SAS statistical software. Intraspecific differences occurred regarding aerial spore release. Under humid conditions, however, Penicillium species were more successful in releasing their spores than Aspergillus and the Acremonium strain. Under desiccated conditions the Aspergillus took longer to release their spores than representatives of Acremonium and Penicillium. The taxa that were investigated did not differ from each other regarding the release of spores in physiological salt solution (PSS). Although not proven, indications are that water may act as an important dispersion agent for these fungi, because washing of cultures with PSS resulted in all cases in an immediate massive release of colony forming units. Subsequently, using standard plate count techniques, conidial adhesion of the fungi mentioned above to synthetic membranes, leaf cuttings and insect exoskeletons differing in hydrophobicity and electrostatic charge were investigated. We found that the different genera showed different adhesion profiles for the series of test surfaces, indicating differences in physico-chemical characteristics of the fungal spore surfaces. In general, the Penicillium strains showed a greater ability to adhere to the test surfaces, than the aspergilli, while the representative of Acremonium showed the least adherence. No significant difference in the percentage spore adhesion was found between hydrophobic and hydrophilic materials. Furthermore, evidence was uncovered supporting the contention that, under dry conditions, electrostatic surface charges play a role in the adherence of fungal spores to surfaces, because adherence was positively correlated (Correlation coefficient = 0.70898, p = 0.001) to positive electrostatic charges on the lamellar surfaces. In the next part of the study, standard plate count methods were used to determine the relative adhesion of the above mentioned hyphomycetous fungi, as well as a polyphyletic group of yeasts, to the test surfaces submerged in 10 mM sodium phosphate buffer (pH 7.0). As was found with the experiments with the dry surfaces, both intraspecific and intergenus differences were uncovered. Overall, the fungi adhered better to hydrophilic surfaces than to hydrophobic surfaces. This indicated that the fungal surfaces were covered with relatively hydrophilic compounds such as carbohydrates. Subsequently, it was demonstrated that all the fungi adhered to plasma membrane glycoprotein coated polystyrene and the presence of fungal carbohydrates on the surfaces of the fungal propagules was confirmed using epi-fluorescence microscopy. Differences in the strategy of the fungal genera to release their airborne spores, as well as differences in their adhesion profiles for the series of test materials, may be indicative of a unique environmental niche for each genus. In future, this phenomenon should be investigated further.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hifomisete fungi is daarvoor bekend om te versprei deur middel van wind, water, en insek vektore. Maar nietemin, daar is bykans geen kennis m.b.t. hoe hierdie fungi van mekaar verskil t.o.v. hul vermoë om versprei te word deur omgewings vektore nie. Gevolglik was spoorvrystelling van kulture, verteenwoordigend van die genera Acremonium, Aspergillus en Penicillium gemoniteer om ‘n aanduiding te kry van primêre wyse van spoorverspreiding waardeur verteenwoordigers van die onderskeie genera ingespan word. Eksperimentele data ingewin, vanaf plaat tellings wat uitgevoer was op lug afkomstig vanuit die uitlaat-klep van die lugvloei kapsule, was onderwerp aan ‘n toepaslike analise van afwyking (ANOVA), deur gebruik te maak van ‘n SAS statistiese pakket. Intraspesie verskille is waargeneem t.o.v. lug spoorvrystelling. Desnieteenstaande was Penicillium meer suksesvol onder vogtige kondisies t.o.v. spoorvrystelling in vergelyking met Aspergillus en die Acremonium stam. Onder droë kondisies het verteenwoordigers van Aspergillus langer geneem om hul spore vry te stel as verteenwoordigers van onderskeidelik, Penicillium en Acremonium. Geen verskille was waargeneem m.b.t. spoorvrystelling in fisiologiese soutoplossing (FSO) tussen die verskillende filogenetiese stamme nie. Alhoewel dit nie bewys is nie, wil dit voorkom asof water as belangrike verspreidingsagent van die betrokke fungi dien, aangesien die spoel van kulture met FSO tot ‘n oombliklike enorme vrystelling van kolonie-vormende eenhede gelei het. Gevolglik, deur gebruik te maak van standaard plaattellings tegnieke, was spoor aanhegting van bogenoemde fungi aan sintetiese membrane, blaar snitte en insek eksoskelette wat verskil in terme van hidrofobisiteit en elektriese lading, ondersoek. Daar was gevind dat die aanhegtingsprofiele m.b.t. hierdie reeks toetsoppervlaktes van die verskillende genera verskil, wat op sigself ‘n aanduiding was van verskille in fisieschemiese eienskappe van die swamspoor oppervlaktes. Penicillium stamme het ‘n hoër aanhegtings vermoë aan die toetsoppervlaktes getoon as die aspergilli, terwyl die verteenwoordiger van Acremonium die laagste aanhegting getoon het. Geen betekenisvolle verskille i.t.v. persentasie spoor aanhegting was gevind tussen hidrofobiese en hidrofiliese oppervlakte nie. Daarbenewens was die argument dat spoorvrystelling onder droë kondisies beïnvloed word deur elektrostatiese oppervlak ladings, bevestig deur ons bevindinge, want aanhegting het positief gekoreleer (Korrelasie koëffisient = 0.70898, p = 0.001) met positiewe ladings op die oppervlaktes. ‘n Standaard plaattellingstegniek was aangewend in die volgende fasset van die studie om die relatiewe aanhegting van bogenoemde hifomisete fungi, sowel as ‘n polifilitiese groep giste aan die toetsoppervlaktes, gedompel in 10 mM natrium fosfaat buffer (pH 7.0) vas te stel. Intraspesie en intragenus verskille was weereens waargeneem, net soos in die geval van die eksperimente met die droë oppervlakte. In die algemeen het die swamme baie beter geheg aan hidrofiliese oppervlaktes in vergelyking met hidrofobiese oppervlakte. Dit was ‘n aanduiding dat die swamspoor oppervlaktes bedek was met relatiewe hidrofiliese verbindings bv. koolhidrate. Verder was daar bewys dat alle swamme ingesluit in hierdie studie die vermoë het om plasmamembraan glikoproteïn bedekte polistireen te bind, en gevolglik was die teenwoordigheid van van koolhidrate op die swamspore bevestig m.b.v epi-fluoresensie mikroskopie. Verskille in die strategie van swamme om spore in die lug vry te stel, sowel as verskille in die aanhegtingsprofiele vir ‘n reeks toetsmateriale, mag net ‘n aanduiding wees van ‘n unieke omgewings nis vir elke genus wat in hierdie studie ondersoek is. Hierdie verskynsel moet dus in die nabye toekoms nagevors word.

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