Working Group 4

New industrial products in life sciences

The network will continue seeking pharmaceutical and agrochemical indications, but will expand endophyte exploitation into other industrial applications. Recently, interest for innovative products has arisen in other life sciences industries, including the food and cosmetics sectors as well as white biotechnology. Novel enzymes, natural colorants and preservatives, probiotics and other food additives from renewable sources are being sought to replace traditional synthetic additives. The beneficial properties of endophytes employed for biocontrol or “mycofumigants” are often related to SM production; however, new products must be scrutinized for mycotoxins and proven advantageous over former synthetic chemicals. Rapidly evolving antibiotic resistance, and now affecting Gram negative pathogens, has been recognised by the EU as a major public health threat.

Massive funding is being dedicated to the discovery of novel antibiotics. As most antibiotics have been developed from natural products, the vast reservoir of unknown endophytic microbes may be among the most exciting sources for new antibiotic scaffolds.

  • SMs can mediate interorganism communication and ecological interactions and can determine biocontrol efficacy. Therefore efforts on model organisms employed by other WGs will be prioritized and model endophytes based on production of potent bioactive molecules will be suggested.
  • In interaction with WG2, new organisms by focusing on phylogenetic groups that are known to be creative SM producers will be found. The search will be accomplished by best-practice isolation protocols including high throughput culturing and baiting techniques, or selection of known endophytes from culture collections.
  • Correlations between SM production and phylogeny based on model organisms, e.g. Xylariaceae will be exploited, that are prolific SM producers and have yielded important new chemistry, e.g. PF-1022 and nodulisporic acid mentioned in Part B.
  • Expression of SM pathways during establishment of fungus-plant or fungus-insect vector interactions will be followed and the ecological advantage of these compounds during the endophyte life cycle will be understood. The model organisms described above should also be included here.
  • Endophyte SMs have not been systematically screened outside the large pharmaceutical companies. Expose endophyte SMs to biochemical mechanism assays relevant for lead discovery in the food and cosmetics industry (e.g. food preservatives; antioxidant and antiaging mechanisms).
  • Useful SMs will be optimized for scale up in bioreactors employing modern downstream processing equipment and preparative chromatography systems to in collaboration with industrial partners and assuring sustainable production.


Leader Working Group 4



Marc Stadler

Vice-Leader Working Group 4



Anna Maria Pirttilä