New active substances against roundworms and germs discovered in tropical mushrooms
Penicillin is still one of the best known antibiotics and the active ingredient was discovered over a hundred years ago in fungi that form it naturally. Since then, fungi have been considered a natural source of antimicrobial substances in drug discovery. In a current study, an international research team has now looked for new active ingredients in previously unknown tropical mushrooms - with success!
According to the scientists, the fungal diversity in tropical regions promises an abundance of new chemical substances with antibiotic activity, but little research has been carried out to date. The international research group headed by Prof. Marc Stadler from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI) has now discovered new natural substances in fungi samples from the rainforest of Thailand that have an effect on bacteria and roundworms. The results of the scientists were published in the specialist magazine "MycoKeys".
Tropical mushrooms as active ingredient suppliers
Mushrooms play a crucial role in the search for new active ingredients and their rich pool of metabolic products with selective biological activity is well suited for the development of new drugs, according to the HZI. The so-called Mycobiota of tropical countries in particular has great potential here. From the mushrooms in a habitat with a large, still undeveloped biodiversity, remedies for various complaints could be obtained. According to the researchers, many new active substances with antimicrobial, cytotoxic and antioxidative effects have been isolated from tropical mushrooms in recent years.
Mushrooms from the Thai rainforest examined
In 2015, the international research group led by Prof. Stadler, head of the HZI "Microbial Agents" department and scientist at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), collected mushroom samples in the rainforest of Thailand, which were then examined in the laboratory. For this, the individual fungal strains were isolated and first characterized by sequencing - so-called genetic barcoding. Already known genera were sorted out and the isolated strains were analyzed morphologically and phylogenetically.
New genus of mushrooms identified
The scientists came across a new genus of mushrooms from the previously largely unknown world of mushrooms. This genus was struck by antagonistic reactions and eight natural substances with antibiotic and nematicidal effects (deadly effects on nematodes or nematodes) could be extracted and identified, reports the HZI. Six of these agents were previously unknown to science. The new mushroom was given the name Pseudobambusicola thailandica.
Another 30 fungal strains under investigation
According to the researchers, the biological activity of the discovered substances is only moderate, which is why they are out of the question for drug development. However, it is still being investigated whether the new fungus could be used for the biological control of pathogenic nematodes and fungi in agriculture. In addition, the project is only a small step in drug discovery for fungi and around 30 other fungal strains are currently being analyzed, says Clara Chepkirui, PhD student in Prof. Stadler's team.
"We are looking for new types and types of fungi that are suitable for use as biological pesticides or as producers of new active ingredients," said Professor Stadler, summarizing the goals of the EU-funded "GoMyTri" research project. The HZI reports that young chemists, biologists and engineers from Egypt, China, Colombia, Cameroon, Croatia, Kenya, Thailand, the Philippines, the Netherlands and Germany were involved in the current interdisciplinary project. (fp)