About this Research Topic
Fungal natural products are characterized by a wide spectrum of biological activities that ensure the adaptation of fungi to their environment and that mediate their interactions with other organisms. Some of these natural products are promising sources of new lead compounds, especially for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agrochemical and food industries. However, others known as mycotoxins pose risks to human and animal health or are involved in plant diseases as pathogenicity factors. Therefore, the discovery of new fungal natural products is critical to assessing both the utility and risks of these compounds.
Technological advances in genome sequencing and bioinformatics have substantially increased the number of sequenced microbial genomes. This breakthrough in genomic information has highlighted a discrepancy between the number of genes clusters potentially encoding natural product production and the actual number of chemically characterized metabolites for a given microorganism. Homologous and heterologous expression of these biosynthetic genes, which are often silent under experimental laboratory culture conditions, may lead to the discovery of novel cryptic natural products of medical and biotechnological interest.
Recently, new genetic and cultivation‐based strategies have been developed aimed at awakening these silent gene clusters. Methods that use genetic engineering techniques require a relatively sophisticated knowledge of the biology of the producing or surrogate host organisms. In contrast, global physiological alterations can be triggered by approaches based on the modification of the growth conditions without genetically manipulating the organism. This empirical approach, commonly called OSMAC (one strain many compounds), exploits the fact that changes in the cultivation parameters, such as nutrients, temperature, salinity, aeration, or even the flask shape, can elicit production and discovery of new natural products. As a direct extension of this approach, co‐culture strategies and the addition of chemical elicitors or epigenetic modifiers have also been used to activate silent genes.
The aim of this Research Topic is to demonstrate successful examples of known strategies and describe new strategies for the discovery of novel natural products from fungi. Authors are encouraged to contribute with original scientific articles, reviews, and mini reviews focusing on the following areas:
• Methods for direct detection of fungal natural products.
• Genome mining for the discovery of fungal metabolites through targeted analysis of cryptic clusters and, more specifically, evolving strategies for induction of silent gene cluster expression and linkage of encoding genes to their cognate metabolites.
• Metabolomic strategies based on the manipulation of culture conditions and use of epigenetic modifiers to induce the expression of silent biogenetic gene clusters and the production of new fungal products.
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