“Crowdsourcing”, the cooperation of a large number of interested nonscientists, has helped to find a new fungus from which American researchers have now isolated and characterized an unusual metabolite with interesting antitumor activity.
To date, fewer than 7 % of the more than 1.5 million species of fungi thought to exist have been investigated for bioactive components. To change this situation, a research group headed by Robert H. Cichewicz at the University of Oklahoma has prepared a collection of several thousand fungal isolates from three regions: arctic Alaska, tropical Hawaii, and subtropical to semiarid Oklahoma.The fungal extracts were analyzed and subjected to biological tests, including antitumor activity, by Susan L. Mooberry at the University of Texas at San Antonio. This resulted in the discovery of a number of interesting substances.
The researchers soon realized that the efforts of a single research team were insufficient to acquire samples representing the immense diversity of the thousands of fungi they hoped to test.
Therefore, the team turned to a “crowdsourcing” approach, in which lay people with an interest in science, known as “citizen scientists”, were invited to take part in the collection process by submitting soil samples from their properties. Crowdsourcing is becoming an increasingly important tool, giving research groups access to information and samples that could otherwise not be subjected to scientific study. Crowdsourcing has previously been used in a variety of projects, including the analysis of historic weather data and the classification of newly discovered galaxies.
Putting this approach into practice, the research team uncovered a new fungal strain identified as a Tolypocladium species in a crowdsourced soil sample from Alaska. The fungal isolate, which was identified by Andrew Miller at the University of Illinois, was highly responsive to changes in the way it was grown, leading to the production of several new compounds, including a unique metabolite with significant antitumor activity. This substance may represent a valuable new approach to cancer treatment because it avoids certain routes that lead to resistance.
To obtain this substance, a biosynthetic pathway that is not active under normal conditions was activated by the addition of specific chemicals, cultivation in a special medium, and in the presence of Pseudomonas bacteria. The scientists were able to isolate and characterize the metabolite they called maximiscin. Spectroscopic techniques revealed that maximiscin is a rather unusual structure, having been produced through a combination of diverse biosynthetic pathways unique to this fungus.
The researchers point out the essential roles that citizen scientists can play. “Many of the groundbreaking discoveries, theories, and applied research during the last two centuries were made by scientists operating from their own homes. Although much has changed, the idea that citizen scientists can still participate in research is a powerful means for reinvigorating the public’s interest in science and making important discoveries,” says Cichewicz.About the Author
Author: Robert H. Cichewicz, University of Oklahoma, Norman (USA), http://chem.ou.edu/robert-h-cichewicz
Title: Crowdsourcing Natural Products Discovery to Access Uncharted Dimensions of Fungal Metabolite Diversity
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201306549
Robert H. Cichewicz | Angewandte Chemie
Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years
24.04.2017 | University of Oxford
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences