Bioactive Microbial Metabolites
Fungi are a very diverse group of organisms. They include the moulds which attack plants and plant products, and are a major problem due to the agricultural damage and food spoilage they cause. Fungi are also a source of diverse bioactive molecules with potential biotechnology applications.
To control disease-causing mould we are forced to used synthetic chemicals that kill fungi but also pollute the environment and are toxic to other organisms, including humans. Growing consumer concern about potential health and environmental impacts of synthetic, toxic chemicals and preservatives has resulted in a demand for effective natural alternatives.
We have discovered a novel natural fungicide, which is derived from a fungus. This fungicide is highly specific and effective against many strains of disease-causing filamentous fungi. The chemical structure and properties of this fungicide have been characterised in the laboratory, showing it has a low degree of toxicity, is water and alcohol soluble, and is biodegradable.
The fungicide has been licensed for use in the horticulture industry, and there is significant potential for its use in the food technology and pharmaceutical industries.
An anti-fungal compound is secreted by the fungus shown on the right, which is inhibiting the growth of the white fungus shown on the left.