Secondary metabolites are known to serve a wide range of specialized functions including communication, developmental control and defense. Genome sequencing of several fungal model species revealed that the majority of predicted secondary metabolite related genes are silent in laboratory strains, indicating that fungal secondary metabolites remain an underexplored resource of bioactive molecules. In this study, we combine heterologous expression of regulatory proteins in Aspergillus nidulans with systematic variation of growth conditions and observe induced synthesis of insect juvenile hormone-III and methyl farnesoate. Both compounds are sesquiterpenes belonging to the juvenile hormone class. Juvenile hormones regulate developmental and metabolic processes in insects and crustaceans, but have not previously been reported as fungal metabolites. We found that feeding by Drosophila melanogaster larvae induced synthesis of juvenile hormone in A. nidulans indicating a possible role of juvenile hormone biosynthesis in affecting fungal-insect antagonisms.
2013 Nielsen et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.