Secondary metabolites are of intense interest to humans due to their pharmaceutical and/or toxic properties. Also, these metabolites are clinically relevant because of their importance in fungal pathogenesis. Aspergillus species secrete secondary metabolites when grown individually and in the presence of other fungal species. However, it is not known whether secreted secondary metabolites provide a competitive advantage over other fungal species, or whether competition has any effect on the production of those metabolites. Here, we have performed co-cultivation competition assays among different species of Aspergillus to determine relative species fitness in culture, and to analyze the presence of possible antifungal activity of secondary metabolites in extracts. The results show that, for the most part, at 30C only one species is able to survive direct competition with a second species. In contrast, survival of both competitors was often observed at 37C. Consistent with these observations, antifungal activity of extracts from cultures grown at 30C was greater than that of extract from cultures at 37C. Interestingly, culture extracts from all species studied had some degree of antifungal activity, but in general, the extracts had greater antifungal activity when species were grown in the presence of a competitor. Using gas chromatography it was determined that the composition of extracts changed due to competition and a shift in temperature. These findings indicate that co-cultivation could be a very promising method for inducing and characterizing novel antifungal compounds produced by species of Aspergillus.
- secondary metabolites
- antifungal activity