Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases as chitin‐specific virulence factors in crayfish plague

Federico Sabbadin*, Bernard Henrissat, Neil C. Bruce, Simon J. McQueen‐Mason*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The oomycete pathogen Aphanomyces astaci, also known as “crayfish plague”, is an obligate fungal‐like parasite of freshwater crustaceans and is considered responsible for the ongoing decline of native European crayfish populations. A. astaci is thought to secrete a wide array of effectors and enzymes that facilitate infection, however their molecular mechanisms have been poorly characterized. Here, we report the identification of AA15 lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) as a new group of secreted virulence factors in A. astaci. We show that this enzyme family has greatly expanded in A. astaci compared to all other oomycetes, and that it may facilitate infection through oxidative degradation of crystalline chitin, the most abundant polysaccharide found in the crustacean exoskeleton. These findings reveal new roles for LPMOs in animal–pathogen interactions, and could help inform future strategies for the protection of farmed and endangered species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1180
Issue number8
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Crayfish plague
  • oomycete
  • Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase
  • Chitin
  • Pathogen
  • Infection
  • Virulence


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