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Title: Fungi associated with rocks of the Atacama Desert: taxonomy, distribution, diversity, ecology and bioprospection for bioactive compounds

Author
item NICOLAU-GONCALVES, VIVIAN - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item Cantrell, Charles
item Vacant, Vacant
item FERREIRA, MARIANA - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item SOARES, MARCO - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item JACOB, MELISSA - University Of Mississippi
item OLIVEIRA, FABIO - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item GALANTE, DOUGLAS - Laboratorio Nacional De Luz Sincrotron
item RODRIGUES, FABIO - Laboratorio Nacional De Luz Sincrotron
item ALVES, TANIA - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item ZANI, CARLOS - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item JUNIOR, POLICARPO - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item MURTA, SILVANE - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item ROMANHO, ALVARO - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item BARBOSA, EMERSON - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item KROON, ERNA - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item OLIVEIRA, JAQUELLINE - Centro De Pesquisas Rene' Rachou
item GOMEZ-SILVA, BENITO - Universidad De Antofagasta
item GALETOVIC, ALEXANDRA - Universidad De Antofagasta
item ROSA, CARLOS - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item ROSA, LUIZ - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais

Submitted to: Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/23/2015
Publication Date: 3/14/2015
Citation: Nicolau-Goncalves, V., Cantrell, C.L., Wedge, D.E., Ferreira, M.C., Soares, M.A., Jacob, M.R., Oliveira, F., Galante, D., Rodrigues, F., Alves, T., Zani, C., Junior, P., Murta, S., Romanho, A., Barbosa, E., Kroon, E., Oliveira, J., Gomez-Silva, B., Galetovic, A., Rosa, C.A., Rosa, L. 2015. Fungi associated with rocks of the Atacama Desert: taxonomy, distribution, diversity, ecology and bioprospection for bioactive compounds. Environmental Microbiology. 18:232-245.

Interpretive Summary: The Atacama Desert, located between 17° and 27°S latitude in northern Chile, has been considered to be the oldest hyper-arid desert on Earth, where average annual rains of less than 2 mm is not unusual. Some regions of the Atacama Desert have no rainfall for years and its sedimentary records suggest that the semi-arid to hyper-arid climates have origins from the Jurassic period to the present day. These environmental characteristics make the Atacama Desert an ideal field laboratory for studies about life in the extreme of conditions. This study assessed the diversity of fungi living in rocks from different altitudes in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Eighty-one fungal isolates obtained were identified as 21 species of 12 genera from Ascomycota using molecular techniques. Cladosporium halotolerans, Penicillium chrysogenum and Penicillium citrinum were the most frequent species, which occur at least in four different altitudes. The diversity, richness, dominance and similarity ranged in the fungal communities across the latitudinal gradient. Nineteen taxa may represent new species. Twenty-one fungal extracts displayed activity against the different targets screened. Our study represents the first report of a new habitat of fungi associated with rocks of the Atacama Desert and indicated the presence of interesting fungal community with potential different ecological roles, including species related with saprobes, parasite/pathogen and mycotoxigenic taxa. The fungal communities associated with rocks of the Atacama Desert may have important implications for further studies to understand the biochemistry and genetic mechanisms used by eukaryotic cells to survive and colonize extreme environments as well as in drug discovery programs.

Technical Abstract: This study assessed the diversity of fungi living in rocks from different altitudes in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Eighty-one fungal isolates obtained were identified as 21 species of 12 genera from Ascomycota using molecular techniques. Cladosporium halotolerans, Penicillium chrysogenum and Penicillium citrinum were the most frequent species, which occur at least in four different altitudes. The diversity, richness, dominance and similarity ranged in the fungal communities across the latitudinal gradient. Nineteen taxa may represent new species. Twenty-one fungal extracts displayed activity against the different targets screened. The extract of Penicillium chrysogenum UFMGCB 8074 afforded the compounds a-linolenic acid and ergosterol endoperoxide, which were active against Cryptococcus neoformans and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), respectively. Our study represents the first report of a new habitat of fungi associated with rocks of the Atacama Desert and indicated the presence of interesting fungal community with potential different ecological roles, including species related with saprobes, parasite/pathogen and mycotoxigenic taxa. The fungal communities associated with rocks of the Atacama Desert may have important implications for further studies to understand the biochemistry and genetic mechanisms used by eukaryotic cells to survive and colonize extreme environments as well as in drug discovery programs.