- Swollenin, a protein first characterized in the saprophytic fungus Trichoderma reesei , contains an N-terminal carbohydrate-binding module family 1 domain (CBD) with cellulose-binding function and a C-terminal expansin-like domain. This protein was identified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry among many other cellulolytic proteins secreted in the coculture hydroponics medium of cucumber ( Cucumis sativus ) seedlings and Trichoderma asperellum , a well-known biocontrol agent and inducer of plant defense responses. The swollenin gene was isolated and its coding region was overexpressed in the same strain under the control of the constitutive pki1 promoter. Trichoderma transformants showed a remarkably increased ability to colonize cucumber roots within 6 h after inoculation. On the other hand, overexpressors of a truncated swollenin sequence bearing a 36-amino acid deletion of the CBD did not differ from the wild type, showing in vivo that this domain is necessary for full protein activity. Root colonization rates were reduced in transformants silenced in swollenin gene expression. A synthetic 36-mer swollenin CBD peptide was shown to be capable of stimulating local defense responses in cucumber roots and leaves and to afford local protection toward Botrytis cinerea and Pseudomonas syringae pv lachrymans infection. This indicates that the CBD domain might be recognized by the plant as a microbe-associated molecular pattern in the Trichoderma -plant interaction.