The antibiotic peptaibol alamethicin from Trichoderma permeabilises Arabidopsis root apical meristem and epidermis but is antagonised by cellulase-induced resistance to alamethicin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Trichoderma fungi live in the soil rhizosphere and are beneficial for plant growth and pathogen resistance. Several species and strains are currently used worldwide in co-cultivation with crops as a biocontrol alternative to chemical pesticides even though little is known about the exact mechanisms of the beneficial interaction. We earlier found alamethicin, a peptide antibiotic secreted by Trichoderma, to efficiently permeabilise cultured tobacco cells. However, pre-treatment with Trichoderma cellulase made the cells resistant to subsequent alamethicin, suggesting a potential mechanism for plant tolerance to Trichoderma, needed for mutualistic symbiosis. Results: We here investigated intact sterile-grown Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings germinated in water or growth medium. These could be permeabilised by alamethicin but not if pretreated with cellulase. By following the fluorescence from the membrane-impermeable DNA-binding probe propidium iodide, we found alamethicin to mainly permeabilise root tips, especially the apical meristem and epidermis cells, but not the root cap and basal meristem cells nor cortex cells. Alamethicin permeabilisation and cellulase-induced resistance were confirmed by developing a quantitative in situ assay based on NADP-isocitrate dehydrogenase accessibility. The combined assays also showed that hyperosmotic treatment after the cellulase pretreatment abolished the induced cellulase resistance. Conclusion: We here conclude the presence of cell-specific alamethicin permeabilisation, and cellulase-induced resistance to it, in root tip apical meristem and epidermis of the model organism A. thaliana. We suggest that contact between the plasma membrane and the cell wall is needed for the resistance to remain. Our results indicate a potential mode for the plant to avoid negative effects of alamethicin on plant growth and localises the point of potential damage and response. The results also open up for identification of plant genetic components essential for beneficial effects from Trichoderma on plants.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell Biology
  • Botany


  • Alamethicin, Arabidopsis, Biotic interaction, Bright yellow 2 cells, Cellulase, Peptaibol, Trichoderma
Original languageEnglish
Article number165
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 10
Publication categoryResearch