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Research Project: Health-Promoting Bioactives and Biobased Pesticides from Medicinal and Herbal Crops

Location: Natural Products Utilization Research

Title: Fungi in Antarctica: diversity, ecology, effect of climate changes, and bioprospection for bioactive compounds

Author
item Rosa, Luiz - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
item Zani, Carlos - Universidade Federal De Vicosa
item Cantrell, Charles
item Duke, Stephen
item Dijck, Patrick - Leuven University
item Desideri, Alessandro - University Of Rome
item Rosa, Carlos - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2019
Publication Date: 6/19/2019
Citation: Rosa, L.H., Zani, C.L., Cantrell, C.L., Duke, S.O., Dijck, P.V., Desideri, A., Rosa, C.A. 2019. Fungi in Antarctica: diversity, ecology, effect of climate changes, and bioprospection for bioactive compounds. Book Chapter. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18367-7_1.

Interpretive Summary: Fungi occur in virtually all kinds of living and non-living substrates of Antarctica in different environments, however, the knowledge of their diversity, their ecological roles, and their biotechnological applications are still limited. Fungal taxa may be present in not yet studied habitats, and Antarctica environments remain unexplored as it pertains to the description of fungal diversity. As eukaryotic organisms, Antarctic fungi seem to be highly adapted to survive and colonize the extreme environments of the Peninsula and Continental Antarctica, and they represent promising and important models to study the environmental limits and survival mechanisms of extremophiles. In addition, since some fungi living in Antarctica are adapted to these extreme conditions and are geographically isolated, they may possess new or unusual metabolic pathways able to produce novel compounds with potential biotechnological applications for medicine, industry, and agriculture. The study of Antarctic fungi adaptations to climate changes and diversity and distribution across Antarctica represents an important model for monitoring the effects of global climate changes on other life forms. However, Antarctic microorganisms, including fungi, are still largely unknown, as it is their physiological and biochemical behaviour when in contact with other life forms. Potential pathogenic effects on plants and animals, including mammals, are unknown for most Antarctic fungi, although a few studies have suggested that some of these species could have such effects. Several Antarctic fungi produce secondary metabolites with a variety of biological activities. These fungi represent potential biological “factories” able to produce many compounds with great potential for direct use in agriculture or as prototype molecules to be chemically modified for agrochemical applications.

Technical Abstract: Fungi occur in virtually all kinds of living and non-living substrates of Antarctica in different environments, however, the knowledge of their diversity, their ecological roles, and their biotechnological applications are still limited. The main Antarctic fungal phylum resident is Ascomycota and its anamorphs, followed by Basidiomycota and a few Zygomycota. However, other known and unknown fungal taxa may be present in not yet studied habitats, and Antarctica environments remain unexplored as it concerns the description of fungal diversity. As eukaryotic organisms, Antarctic fungi seem to be highly adapted to survive and colonize the extreme environments of the Peninsula and Continental Antarctica, and they represent promising and important models to study the environmental limits and survival mechanisms of extremophiles. In addition, since some fungi living in Antarctica are adapted to these extreme conditions and are geographically isolated, they may possess new or unusual metabolic pathways able to produce novel compounds with potential biotechnological applications for medicine, industry, and agriculture. Finally, the global climate changes and the potential contamination of the Antarctica ecosystems with non-native species represent two of the greatest dangers for the conservation and future of this region. The study of Antarctic fungi adaptations to climate changes and diversity and distribution across Antarctica represents an important model for monitoring the effects of global climate changes on other life forms. However, Antarctic microorganisms, including fungi, are still largely unknown, as it is their physiological and biochemical behaviour when in contact with other life forms. Potential pathogenic effects on plants and animals, including mammals, are unknown for most Antarctic fungi, although a few studies have suggested that some of these species could have such effects.