Survival of microorganisms in natural environments is favored by the capacity to produce compounds toxic to competing organisms and the ability to resist the effects of such toxic compounds. Both factors contribute to a competitive advantage of organisms in ecosystems. All organisms have evolved active transport mechanisms by which endogenous and exogenous toxicants can be secreted. Two major classes of transporter proteins are the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) and the major facilitator superfamily (MFS) transporters. Members of both classes can have broad and overlapping substrate specificities for natural toxic compounds and can be regarded as a 'first-line defense barrier' in survival mechanisms. In plant pathogens, these transporters can play an essential role in protection against plant defense compounds during pathogenesis. Also, some transporters actively secrete host-specific and non-host-specific toxins. Remarkably, ABC and MFS transporters can also play a major role in fungicide sensitivity and resistance. Their role in multidrug resistance of Aspergillus nidulans, Candida albicans, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae to azoles and other fungitoxic compounds is well established. Knowledge of ABC and MFS transporters opens possibilities of developing novel strategies for controlling plant diseases, either by modulation of transporter activity or by transgenic expression of transporter genes in plants. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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