Summary: A 22 kDa antifungal protein (zeamatin) was purified from seeds. It was identified and assayed by its unusual property of acting synergistically with nikkomycin to inhibit growth of . Alone, it inhibited growth in suspension culture of and . Zeamatin contained no detectable chitinase, 1,3-β-glucanase or ribosome-inactivating protein activity, enzymes present in a variety of plants that have been shown to have antifungal properties. At low concentrations zeamatin caused the rapid release of cytoplasmic material from and . This was confirmed microscopically by observing zeamatin-induced hyphal rupture of these fungi. These results suggest that zeamatin permeabilizes the fungal plasma membrane. We believe zeamatin to be a representative of a previously unrecognized class of plant antifungal proteins.


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