Fungal-Fighting Compounds Produced by Garden Nasturtium's Friendly Fungi

Jenn Hoskins
17th May, 2024

Fungal-Fighting Compounds Produced by Garden Nasturtium's Friendly Fungi

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Vidyasagar University studied fungal endophytes from garden nasturtium for potential antifungal therapies
  • The extract from Colletotrichum aenigma TML3 showed strong antifungal activity against Candida species, inhibiting biofilm formation and reducing virulence
  • Volatile compounds from Curvularia lunata TML9 effectively inhibited plant pathogens, suggesting dual applications in agriculture and medicine
Fungal infections, particularly those that are invasive and life-threatening, pose a significant health risk, especially for individuals with compromised immune systems. Current antifungal treatments are limited to just three classes of drugs, which have not seen much innovation in the past three decades[2]. The growing incidence of fungal infections is exacerbated by increasing antimicrobial resistance, making existing treatments less effective and leading to higher morbidity and mortality rates[3]. In this context, a recent study by researchers at Vidyasagar University offers promising new insights into potential antifungal therapies derived from natural sources[1]. The study focuses on metabolites produced by fungal endophytes isolated from Tropaeolum majus, commonly known as garden nasturtium. Endophytes are microorganisms that live inside plant tissues without causing harm to the host. These endophytes have shown potential as sources of bio-therapeutic agents, particularly in the fight against fungal pathogens. The researchers isolated two specific fungal endophytes, Colletotrichum aenigma TML3 and Curvularia lunata TML9, and investigated their antifungal properties. The metabolites from these endophytes were identified using chromatographic techniques, which separate and analyze complex mixtures. The study found that the ethyl acetate (EA) extract from the cell-free culture of Colletotrichum aenigma TML3 exhibited broad-spectrum antifungal activity against four species of Candida, a major human fungal pathogen known for its association with biofilm growth and high antimicrobial resistance[3]. The primary constituents of this extract were 6-pentyl-2H-pyran-2-one, 2-Nonanone, and 1-propanol-2-amino. These compounds were found to inhibit biofilm formation, reduce the haemolytic effect, and block the transformation of Candida albicans from yeast to its more invasive hyphal form. This inhibition occurred at a Minimum Fungicidal Concentration (MFC) of 200-600 µg mL^-1, indicating a potent antifungal effect. The study also explored the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by Curvularia lunata TML9. These VOCs, including trans-ocimene, geraniol, and 4-terpinyl acetate, demonstrated significant anti-phytopathogenic activity. They inhibited the growth of various plant pathogens such as Rhizoctonia solani, Alternaria alternata, and Botrytis cinerea by up to 89%, with an IC50 value ranging from 21.3 to 69.6 µL 50 mL^-1. The VOCs caused leakage of soluble proteins and other intracellular molecules, effectively disrupting the cellular integrity of these pathogens. The study's findings are particularly significant given the limitations of current antifungal therapies. Existing treatments like polyenes, azoles, and echinocandins are facing challenges such as off-target toxicity and the emergence of drug-resistant fungi[4]. The metabolites from T. majus endophytes offer a novel and potentially effective alternative. The EA extract from Colletotrichum aenigma TML3 not only targets Candida species but also hampers biofilm formation, a key factor in the pathogen's resistance and virulence[3]. On the other hand, the VOCs from Curvularia lunata TML9 present a dual application by targeting both human and plant pathogens, making them valuable for both agricultural and pharmaceutical industries. Further research is needed to fully understand the therapeutic potential of these metabolites. The study suggests that the anti-Candida activity of TML3 metabolites warrants additional assessment for clinical applications. Similarly, the VOCs from TML9 could be explored further as a source of new antifungal agents. This research not only expands our understanding of natural antifungal compounds but also opens new avenues for sustainable and effective treatments against fungal infections.

BiochemPlant ScienceMycology


Main Study

1) Antifungal activity of bio-active cell-free culture extracts and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) synthesised by endophytic fungal isolates of Garden Nasturtium.

Published 16th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Antifungal drug development: challenges, unmet clinical needs, and new approaches.

3) Candida species: current epidemiology, pathogenicity, biofilm formation, natural antifungal products and new therapeutic options.

4) The antifungal pipeline: a reality check.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙