Chitosan is a biopolymer with a wide range of applications. The use of chitosan in clinical medicine to control infections by fungal pathogens such as Candida
spp. is one of its most promising applications in view of the reduced number of antifungals available. Chitosan increases intracellular oxidative stress, then permeabilizes the plasma membrane of sensitive filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa
and yeast. Transcriptomics reveals plasma membrane homeostasis and oxidative metabolism genes as key players in the response of fungi to chitosan. A lipase and a monosaccharide transporter, both inner plasma membrane proteins, and a glutathione transferase are main chitosan targets in N. crassa.
Biocontrol fungi such as Pochonia chlamydosporia
have a low content of polyunsaturated free fatty acids in their plasma membranes and are resistant to chitosan. Genome sequencing of P. chlamydosporia
reveals a wide gene machinery to degrade and assimilate chitosan. Chitosan increases P. chlamydosporia
sporulation and enhances parasitism of plant parasitic nematodes by the fungus. Omics
studies allow understanding the mode of action of chitosan and help its development as an antifungal and gene modulator.
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