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Chemistry | Fungi


Kate Graham


Medical advances in society such as organ transplants, prolonged chemotherapy, and those that lengthen the lives of AIDS patients and the elderly increase the number of immunocompromised individuals(1). When the immune system is compromised, opportunistic fungi can flourish and become fatal. Current antifungal treatments are limited and often toxic(2,3). In addition, strains of fungi resistant to available antifungals are emerging(4,5). Fungi were selected as the source of potential new antifungal agents because fungal antagonism has been reported in most fungal ecosystems(6). Endophytic fungi, which inhabit the spaces between plant cells, are known producers of natural products and that assist plants in fending off plant fungal pathogens(7). Therefore, endophytic fungi should produce compounds with antifungal activity. The endophytic fungus, KG146A, a basidiomycete found in the wild rosemary tree/shrub Ceratiola ericoides, demonstrated antifungal activity in plug assays against Candida, a human pathogen. KG146A was cultured in liquid Sabouraud's Dextrose broth and extracted with ethyl acetate. The organic extracts (~5mg/ diffusion disk) revealed antifungal activity in disc diffusion assays against Candida albicans 406, Candida albicans wisconsin, Candida albicans MEN, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Purification of the active component involving LH-20 gel chromatography followed by reverse-phase HPLC was developed. Final purification will be completed through the use of HPLC and structure elucidation will be achieved through NMR spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry.