Bioactivity of Fungal Endophytes as a Function of Endophyte Taxonomy and the Taxonomy and Distribution of Their Host Plants

Sarah J. Higginbotham, Anne E Arnold, Alicia Ibañez, Carmenza Spadafora, Phyllis D. Coley, Thomas A. Kursar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fungal endophytes - fungi that grow within plant tissues without causing immediate signs of disease - are abundant and diverse producers of bioactive secondary metabolites. Endophytes associated with leaves of tropical plants are an especially exciting and relatively untapped source of novel compounds. However, one major challenge in drug discovery lies in developing strategies to efficiently recover highly bioactive strains. As part of a 15-year drug discovery project, foliar endophytes were isolated from 3198 plant samples (51 orders, 105 families and at least 232 genera of angiosperms and ferns) collected in nine geographically distinct regions of Panama. Extracts from culture supernatants of >2700 isolates were tested for bioactivity (in vitro percent inhibition of growth, % IG) against a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) and the causative agents of malaria, leishmaniasis, and Chagas' disease. Overall, 32.7% of endophyte isolates were highly active in at least one bioassay, including representatives of diverse fungal lineages, host lineages, and collection sites. Up to 17% of isolates tested per assay were highly active. Most bioactive strains were active in only one assay. Fungal lineages differed in the incidence and degree of bioactivity, as did fungi from particular plant taxa, and greater bioactivity was observed in endophytes isolated from plants in cloud forests vs. lowland forests. Our results suggest that using host taxonomy and forest type to tailor plant collections, and selecting endophytes from specific orders or families for cultivation, will markedly increase the efficiency and efficacy of discovering bioactive metabolites for particular pharmaceutical targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73192
JournalPLoS One
Volume8
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 16 2013

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Endophytes
Taxonomies
Bioactivity
endophytes
host plants
Metabolites
Fungi
taxonomy
Assays
Bioassay
Drug Discovery
drugs
plant collections
Cells
Tissue
Ferns
Panama
Angiosperms
Chagas disease
fungi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Bioactivity of Fungal Endophytes as a Function of Endophyte Taxonomy and the Taxonomy and Distribution of Their Host Plants. / Higginbotham, Sarah J.; Arnold, Anne E; Ibañez, Alicia; Spadafora, Carmenza; Coley, Phyllis D.; Kursar, Thomas A.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 8, No. 9, e73192, 16.09.2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Higginbotham, Sarah J. ; Arnold, Anne E ; Ibañez, Alicia ; Spadafora, Carmenza ; Coley, Phyllis D. ; Kursar, Thomas A. / Bioactivity of Fungal Endophytes as a Function of Endophyte Taxonomy and the Taxonomy and Distribution of Their Host Plants. In: PLoS One. 2013 ; Vol. 8, No. 9.
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