Phytotoxic metabolites produced by Verticillium dahliae Kleb. in olive wilting: a chemical and spectroscopic approach for their molecular characterisation

Most of the symptoms associated with Verticillium wilt disease in olive cultivation are due to complexes excreted by Verticillium dahliae. In this study chemical and physico-chemical techniques were combined to investigate how the molecular structure of phytotoxins isolated from two pathotypes of Verticillium dahliae, defoliating, D, and non-defoliating, ND, grown on two different media, Verticillium-dahliae-Medium (VdM) and Simulated Xylem-fluid-Medium (SXM), can affect their aggressiveness. Data obtained highlight important structural differences, both in term of elemental composition and in functional groups distribution. Such peculiarities strongly affect their solubility, resulted higher for the phytotoxins from D pathotype. This property likely induces serious modifications of the conformational state of the proteinaceous component, making tyrosine residues accessible to the phosphate ion. A phosphorylation mechanism would thus be promoted, that is going to interfere with the function of the involved proteins in intracellular signalling networks, likely by altering its role in modulating the plant’s response.