Antarctic fungi show antibiotic effect | Polarjournal
Rather inconspicuous Antarctic soil fungi could provide valuable substances in the fight against diseases. In the study, Antarctomyces sp. (a,b), Thelebolus sp. (c, d), Penicillium sp.(e, f) and Cryptococcus gilvescens species were tested against different bacteria (top: top view; bottom: bottom view). Photos: Ordóñez-Enireb et al. 2022

In der Medizinforschung ist man unablässig auf der Suche nach neuen Wirkstoffen beispielsweise zur Behandlung von Tumorerkrankungen oder bakteriellen Infektionen. Eine noch so gut wie unerforschte Schatzkammer für medizinische Wirkstoffe scheint die Antarktis zu sein. Insbesondere Mikroorganismen könnten aufgrund ihrer spezifischen physiologischen Anpassungen sekundäre Stoffwechselprodukte erzeugen, die in der Biotechnologie Anwendung finden könnten. Ein Forschungsteam aus Ecuador hat in einer aktuellen Studie, die im Fachmagazin Nature Scientific Reports veröffentlicht wurde, bei antarktischen Pilzen antibakterielle Aktivität entdeckt.

The realm of fungi plays a major role in biotechnology. Fungi or their metabolic products are used in numerous applications in the textile, food and pharmaceutical industries. In previous studies, researchers also found valuable compounds with antitumor, antiparasitic, and antibacterial effects in fungi from Antarctica. However, the genetic diversity of Antarctic microbes is largely unexplored.

The four fungi under the microscope: a – Cryptococcus gilvescens, b – Penicillium sp., c – Thelebolus sp., d – Antarctomyces sp. Photos: Ordóñez-Enireb et al. 2022

For the current study, the research team collected soil samples near Ecuador’s Pedro Vicente Maldonado Antarctic Station at Fort William Point on Greenwich Island north of the Antarctic Peninsula and isolated four fungi, testing their antibacterial activity against four medically relevant bacterial strains: Escherichia coli (intestinal bacterium), Klebsiella pneumoniae (triggers urinary tract infections and pneumonia), Enterococcus faecalis (intestinal bacterium) and Staphylococcus aureus (multidrug-resistant bacterium).

The studies revealed that two of the four fungi, Cryptococcus gilvescens and Penicillium sp., showed antibacterial activity against all bacterial strains, while Thelebolus sp. showed potential antibacterial activity only against E. coli. The fourth fungus, Antarctomyces sp. showed no antibiotic activity against any of the bacterial strains tested.

Only three of the four fungi showed antibacterial activity, here against E. coli: a – Thelebolus sp. , b – Cryptococcus gilvescens, d – Penicillium sp.. Antarctomyces sp. (c) did not inhibit bacterial growth. Photos: Ordóñez-Enireb et al. 2022

It is possible that at least some of the fungi studied even help against tumor diseases. In any case, other Penicillium species from polar ecosystems showed cell-killing activity against cancer cell lines (cultured human cancer cells) as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and antifungal activity. And the authors explain in the study that the bioassay they used can also be extended to look for antiviral and anticancer compounds. Future studies will isolate, identify and characterize the putative bioactive compounds. In conclusion, they emphasize the potential biotechnological applications of fungi and thus the importance of preserving their environment.

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

Link zur Studie: Ordóñez-Enireb, E., Cucalón, R.V., Cárdenas, D. et al. Antarctic fungi with antibiotic potential isolated from Fort William Point, Antarctica. Sci Rep 12, 21477 (2022). 

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