Bioprospecting of natural products in fungi

  • Synthetic biology
  • Molecular and functional genetics
  • Identification and expression of cryptic secondary metabolite gene clusters
  • Regulation of secondary metabolites

Natural products are an inestimable source of active compounds. Fungi have the capacity to produce very diverse spectra of chemicals that can be potentially used as therapeutics, or for biological control of plant pests. With the beginning of the genomic era, secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways can be predicted by genome mining. These pathways can be isolated and heterologously expressed in amenable organisms to identify new metabolites. Such an approach is more powerful than stochastically trying to activate chemical biosynthesis in lab conditions.

The isolation and structure elucidation of new chemicals can be theoretically used to assign a function to these molecules and to understand their ecological meaning. This approach is not only suitable to increase knowledge about chemical diversity, but can be exploited to uncover the natural role of concealed secondary metabolites.


Vito Valiante

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Valiante V (2023) Advances in synthetic biology of fungi and contributions to the discovery of new molecules. ChemBioChem 24(11), e202300008. (Review)
Bissell AU, Rautschek J, Hoefgen S, Raguž L, Mattern DJ, Saeed N, Janevska S, Jojić K, Huang Y, Kufs JE, Herboeck B, Guo H, Hillmann F, Beemelmanns C, Valiante V (2022) Biosynthesis of the sphingolipid inhibitors sphingofungins in filamentous fungi requires aminomalonate as a metabolic precursor. ACS Chem Biol 17(2), 386-394.
Günther M*, Reimer C*, Herbst R*, Kufs JE, Rautschek J, Ueberschaar N, Zhang S, Peschel G, Reimer L, Regestein L, Valiante V, Hillmann F#, Stallforth P# (2022) Yellow polyketide pigment suppresses premature hatching in social amoeba. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 119(43), e2116122119.


The Junior Research Group “Biobricks of Microbial Natural Product Syntheses” is part of the Leibniz Research Cluster Bio/Synthetic multifunctional micro-production units – Novel ways in bioactive compound development (LRC). The LRC is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the framework of the programme “Strategy Process Biotechnology 2020+”.