Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, 112(10) October 2017
Original Article

Antimycobacterial and antimalarial activities of endophytic fungi associated with the ancient and narrowly endemic neotropical plant Vellozia gigantea from Brazil

Mariana C Ferreira1, Charles L Cantrell2, David E Wedge2, Vívian N Gonçalves1, Melissa R Jacob3, Shabana Khan3, Carlos A Rosa1, Luiz H Rosa1,+

1Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Departamento de Microbiologia, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil
2United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, Mississippi, USA
3University of Mississippi, National Center for Natural Products Research, Mississippi, USA

DOI: 10.1590/0074-02760170144
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BACKGROUND Endophytic fungi, present mainly in the Ascomycota and Basidiomycota phyla, are associated with different plants and represent important producers of bioactive natural products. Brazil has a rich biodiversity of plant species, including those reported as being endemic. Among the endemic Brazilian plant species, Vellozia gigantea (Velloziaceae) is threatened by extinction and is a promising target to recover endophytic fungi.

OBJECTIVE The present study focused on bioprospecting of bioactive compounds of the endophytic fungi associated with V. gigantea, an endemic, ancient, and endangered plant species that occurs only in the rupestrian grasslands of Brazil.

METHODS The capability of 285 fungal isolates to produce antimicrobial and antimalarial activities was examined. Fungi were grown at solid-state fermentation to recover their crude extracts in dichloromethane. Bioactive extracts were analysed by chromatographic fractionation and NMR and displayed compounds with antimicrobial, antimycobacterial, and antimalarial activities.

FINDINGS Five fungi produced antimicrobial and antimalarial compounds. Extracts of Diaporthe miriciae showed antifungal, antibacterial, and antimalarial activities; Trichoderma effusum displayed selective antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium intracellulare; and three Penicillium species showed antibacterial activity. D. miriciae extract contained highly functionalised secondary metabolites, yielding the compound epoxycytochalasin H with high antimalarial activity against the chloroquine-resistant strain of Plasmodium falciparum, with an IC50 approximately 3.5-fold lower than that with chloroquine.

MAIN CONCLUSION Our results indicate that V. gigantea may represent a microhabitat repository hotspot of potential fungi producers of bioactive compounds and suggest that endophytic fungal communities might be an important biological component contributing to the fitness of the plants living in the rupestrian grassland.

Financial support: FAPEMIG (0050-13), CAPES (23038.003478/2013-92), FINEP (2084/07), NIH, NIAID, Division of AIDS (grant nu00ba AI 270940, USDA Agricultural Research Service Specific Cooperative Agreement (nu00ba 58-6408-1-603).
+ Corresponding author:
Received 11 April 2017
Accepted 11 May 2017

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