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Zearalenone lactonohydrolase activity in Hypocreales and its evolutionary relationships within the epoxide hydrolase subset of a/b-hydrolases

Delfina Popiel1*, Grzegorz Koczyk1, Adam Dawidziuk1, Karolina Gromadzka2, Lidia Blaszczyk1 and Jerzy Chelkowski1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Plant Genetics Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan, Poland

2 Department of Chemistry, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Poznan, Poland

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:82  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-82

Published: 3 April 2014



Zearalenone is a mycotoxin produced by several species of Fusarium genus, most notably Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium culmorum. This resorcylic acid lactone is one of the most important toxins causing serious animal and human diseases. For over two decades it has been known that the mycoparasitic fungus Clonostachys rosea (synonym: Gliocladium roseum, teleomorph: Bionectria ochroleuca) can detoxify zearalenone, however no such attributes have been described within the Trichoderma genus.


We screened for the presence of zearalenone lactonohydrolase homologs in isolates of Clonostachys and Trichoderma genera. We report first finding of expressed zearalenone lactonohydrolase in Trichoderma aggressivum. For three isolates (T. aggressivum, C. rosea and Clonostachys catenulatum isolates), we were able to reconstruct full coding sequence and verify the biotransformation ability potential. Additionally, we assessed progression of the detoxification process (in terms of transcript accumulation and mycotoxin decomposition in vitro).

In silico, search for origins of zearalenone lactonohydrolase activity in model fungal and bacterial genomes has shown that zearalenone lactonohydrolase homologs form a monophyletic fungal clade among the a/b hydrolase superfamily representatives. We corroborated the finding of functional enzyme homologs by investigating the functional sites (active site pocket with postulated, noncanonical Ser-Glu-His catalytic triad) conserved in both multiple sequence alignment and in homology-based structural models.


Our research shows the first finding of a functional zearalenone lactonohydrolase in mycoparasitic Trichoderma aggressivum (an activity earlier characterised in the Clonostachys rosea strains). The supporting evidence for presence and activity of functional enzyme homologs is based on the chemical analyses, gene expression patterns, homology models showing conservation of key structural features and marked reduction of zearalenone content in cultured samples (containing both medium and mycelium). Our findings also show divergent strategies of zearalenone biotransformation ability (rapid induced expression and detoxification vs. gradual detoxification) present in several members of Hypocreales order (Trichoderma and Clonostachys genera). The potential for lactonhydrolase activity directed towards zearalenone and/or similar compounds is likely ancient, with homologs present in several divergent filamentous fungi among both Sordariomycetes (Bionectria sp., Trichoderma sp., Apiospora montagnei) and Leotiomycetes (Marssonina brunnea f. sp. ‘multigermtubi’).

Zearalenone lactonohydrolase; Zearalenone; Clonostachys sp; Trichoderma sp; Fusarium sp; Mycotoxins; Epoxide hydrolase; Homology modelling