The steroidal glycoalkaloid alpha-tomatine which is present in tomato (Lycopersicum sculentum) is assumed to protect the plant against phytopathogenic fungi. We have isolated a gene from the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici that is induced by this glycoalkaloid. This gene, designated panC, encodes a predicted protein with a molecular mass of 41 kDa that shows a high degree of sequence similarity to pantothenate synthetases from yeast, plants and bacteria. Recombinant PanC protein from F. oxysporum has been over-expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. It shows pantothenate synthetase activity in the presence of D-pantoate, beta-alanine and ATP. The panC gene from F. oxysporum functionally complements an E. coli panC mutant, demonstrating that the PanC protein functions in vivo as a pantothenate synthetase. Southern analysis of F. oxysporum genomic DNA from other formae speciales indicates that there is a single copy of the pantothenate syntethase gene in this fungus. The presence of a STRE consensus sequence (CCCCT) in the promoter region of the gene suggests that the induction of panC may be part of a cellular stress response triggered by alpha-tomatine.