Fungal endophytes from arid areas of Andalusia: high potential sources for antifungal and antitumoral agents.

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Native plant communities from arid areas present distinctive characteristics to survive in extreme conditions. The large number of poorly studied endemic plants represents a unique potential source for the discovery of novel fungal symbionts as well as host-specific endophytes not yet described. The addition of adsorptive polymeric resins in fungal fermentations has been seen to promote the production of new secondary metabolites and is a tool used consistently to generate new compounds with potential biological activities. A total of 349 fungal strains isolated from 63 selected plant species from arid ecosystems located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, were characterized morphologically as well as based on their ITS/28S ribosomal gene sequences. The fungal community isolated was distributed among 19 orders including Basidiomycetes and Ascomycetes, being Pleosporales the most abundant order. In total, 107 different genera were identified being Neocamarosporium the genus most frequently isolated from these plants, followed by Preussia and Alternaria. Strains were grown in four different media in presence and absence of selected resins to promote chemical diversity generation of new secondary metabolites. Fermentation extracts were evaluated, looking for new antifungal activities against plant and human fungal pathogens, as well as, cytotoxic activities against the human liver cancer cell line HepG2. From the 349 isolates tested, 126 (36%) exhibited significant bioactivities including 58 strains with exclusive antifungal properties and 33 strains with exclusive activity against the HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. After LCMS analysis, 68 known bioactive secondary metabolites could be identified as produced by 96 strains, and 12 likely unknown compounds were found in a subset of 14 fungal endophytes. The chemical profiles of the differential expression of induced activities were compared. As proof of concept, ten active secondary metabolites only produced in the presence of resins were purified and identified. The structures of three of these compounds were new and herein are elucidated.
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