ASAFEM

Antibiotics and anti-quorum sensing compounds from African fungal endophytes inhabiting medicinal plants and cultures of macromycetes

Endophytes

©HZI / Christian Richter

Multi-drug resistant (re-)emerging bacterial pathogens, rapidly evolving viral pathogens, and the increasingly immune-suppressed population are posing new global health challenges. This problem is compounded by the fact that the development of antimicrobial compounds has stagnated for years. Due to these challenges mainly posed by pathogens in human clinical medicine, it is important to return to natural products drug discovery. This has the potential to provide a readily renewable, reproducible source of novel bioactive compounds.

Yielding novel compounds for further analysis 

It is recognised that for some microorganisms, their competition and survival strategies are not only related to the production of bactericidal and fungicidal compounds which inhibit microbial growth. Instead they use a more sophisticated approach of targeting competitor bacteria communication systems (quorum sensing, QS). To exploit this, we will study whether endophytes and macromycetes (mushroom-forming fungi) contain these QS inhibitory molecules.  This will first be assessed qualitatively and then the QS potential of target extracts will be quantified using bacterial biosensor systems. This approach is more likely to yield novel compounds for further analysis and are of great interest.

Aims

ASAFEM_01

©HZI / Christian Richter

Our project aims to isolate antimicrobial compounds from endophytes and macromycetes. The endophytes will be isolated from medicinal African plants. Led by renowned taxonomists, mycological forays will also be conducted in Africa, focusing on genera and families that are prolific metabolite producers. Notably, the vast fungal biodiversity of Africa still remains untapped with regard to its exploitation for bioactive secondary metabolites.

The fungal extracts will be screened for antimicrobial and anti-quorum activities. The most active extracts will be subjected to a bioassay guided fractionation and purification of the bioactive compounds. The most promising hits will be fermented in large scale to produce suficient quantities of lead compounds for pharmacological studies.

Partnerships and training

The existing contacts of the German partners to Pharma companies will be used to establish partnerships. The African partners will be trained to gain expertise in field work, fungal taxonomy, microbiology, pharmacology and analytical chemistry. Capacity building will be accomplished through postgraduate training, fully in the scope with the CBD/ABS.

Long-term collaborations

Our project will ultimately allow talented young African researchers to graduate from European universities. It aims at establishment of long-term collaborations between leading European and African scientists. The project plan is fully in-line with important R&D goals of the European community aiming at the sustainable exploitation of biodiversity (Bioeconomy).

Partners

  • Josphat Matasyoh, Egerton University – Kenya (Koordinator) - Web 
  • Roderich Süßmuth, Technical University of Berlin – Germany - Web
  • Hafizah Chenia, University of Kwa Zulu Natal – South Africa - Web
  • Cony Decock, MUCL – Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium - Web
  • BCCM/MUCL Environmental and Applied Mycology - Web

Leader

Groups

Coordinator

Josphat Matasyoh, Egerton University – Kenya

Homepage

http://www.erafrica.eu/

Funding Agency

BMBF - Federal Ministry of Education and Research