Plant defensins are a large family of proteins, most of which have antifungal activity against a broad spectrum of fungi. However, little is known about how they exert their activity. The mechanisms of action of only a few members of the family have been investigated and, in most cases, there are still a number of unknowns. To gain a better understanding of the antifungal mechanisms of a set of four defensins, NaD1, DmAMP1, NbD6, and SBI6, we screened a pooled collection of the nonessential gene deletion set of
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Strains with increased or decreased ability to survive defensin treatment were identified based on the relative abundance of the strain-specific barcode as determined by MiSeq next-generation sequencing. Analysis of the functions of genes that are deleted in strains with differential growth in the presence of defensin provides insight into the mechanism of action. The screen identified a novel role for the vacuole in the mechanisms of action for defensins NbD6 and SBI6. The effect of these defensins on vacuoles was further confirmed by using confocal microscopy in both S. cerevisiaeand the cereal pathogen Fusarium graminearum. These results demonstrate the utility of this screening method to identify novel mechanisms of action for plant defensins.