What is an Endophyte?
Endophytes are organisms, often fungi and bacteria, that live between living plant cells.
The relationship that they establish with the plant varies from symbiotic to bordering on pathogenic. Of all of the world’s plants, it seems that only a few grass species have had their complete complement of endophytes studied. As a result, the opportunity to find new and interesting endophytes among the myriad of plants is great.
Sometimes extremely unusual and valuable organic substances are produced by these endophytes that are sources of novel chemistry and biology to assist in helping solve not only human health, but plant and animal health problems also.
The initial step, in dealing with endophytic microorganisms, is the selection of a proper and promising plant for study. Then, the endophytes may be successfully isolated from plant materials. After a correct growth medium is selected, the isolation and characterization of bioactive substances from culture filtrates is done using bioassay guided fractionation and spectroscopic methods.
Some of the more interesting compounds produced by endophytic microbes, with which Stroble’s lab have dealt, are:
Taxol: the world’s first billion-dollar anti-cancer drug.
Cryptocin: antifungal agent
Cryptocandin: a molecule with potent anti-fungal properties.
Jesterone: antifungal agent
Oocydin: antifungal agent
The munumbicins: wide spectrum antibiotics
The pseudomycins: antifungal agents for use in humans.
Ambuic acid: antifungal agent