Sea foam harbors a diverse range of fungal spores with biological and ecological relevance in marine environments. Fungi are known as the producers of secondary metabolites that are used in health and agricultural sectors, however the potentials of sea foam-derived fungi have remained unexplored. In this study, organic extracts of six foam-derived fungal isolates belonging to the genera Penicillium, Cladosporium, Emericellopsis and Plectosphaerella were investigated for their antimicrobial activity against plant and human pathogens and anticancer activity. In parallel, an untargeted metabolomics study using UPLC-QToF-MS/MS-based molecular networking (MN) was performed to unlock their chemical inventory. Penicillium strains were identified as the most prolific producers of compounds with an average of 165 parent ions per strain. In total, 49 known mycotoxins and functional metabolites were annotated to specific and ubiquitous parent ions, revealing considerable chemical diversity. This allowed the identification of putative new derivatives, such as a new analog of the antimicrobial tetrapeptide, fungisporin. Regarding bioactivity, the Penicillium sp. isolate 31.68F1B showed a strong and broad-spectrum activity against seven plant and human pathogens, with the phytopathogen Magnaporthe oryzae and the human pathogen Candida albicans being the most susceptible (IC50 values 2.2 and 6.3 µg/mL, respectively). This is the first study mining the metabolome of the sea foam-derived fungi by MS/MS-based molecular networking, and assessing their biological activities against phytopathogens.
Keywords: antimicrobial activity; marine fungi; metabolomics; molecular network; phytopathogen; sea foam.