Antifungal activity of endophytic fungi from Cupressaceae against human pathogenic Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus niger

J Mycol Med. 2020 Sep;30(3):100987. doi: 10.1016/j.mycmed.2020.100987. Epub 2020 May 8.


Aspergillus is a fungal genus that strongly affects health of humans, animals, and plants worldwide. Endophytes are now widely considered as a rich source of bioproducts with potential uses in medicine, agriculture, and bioindustry. Cupressaceae plant family hosts a variety of bioactive ascomycetous endophytes. In this study, antifungal activity of a number of such endophytes were investigated against human pathogenic fungi Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus niger. To this end, 16 superior bioactive endophytic fungi from Cupressaceae were used, including Alternaria alternata, Alternaria pellucida, Ascorhizoctonia sp., Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Aurobasidium sp., Cladosporium porophorum, Fusarium oxysporum, Penicillium viridicatum, Phoma herbarum, Phoma sp., Pyrenochaeta sp., Trichoderma atroviride, Trichoderma atroviride and Trichoderma koningii. In vitro bioassays indicated anti-Asperilli activity of the endophytic fungi in dual cultures. Most notably, Trichoderma koningii CSE32 and Trichoderma atroviride JCE33 showed complete growth inhibition of both A. niger and A. fumigatus, within 3 to 7 days. Also, volatile compouds (VOCs) of T. koningii CSE32 and T. atroviride JCE33 exhibited 33-100% growth inhibition of A. niger, whithin 3 days. Moreover, on the day 7, growth of A. niger was less affected than that of A. fumigatus. In general, it appears that there is a direct relationship between the exposure time and the inhibitory activity of endophytes VOCs on the growth of target Aspergillus species. Furthremore, the extracellular secondary metabolites (SMs) of four selected fungal endophytes exhibited anti-Aspergillus activity at all treatment levels as shown by Agar-diffusion assay. SMs from T. koningii CSE32 and Pyrenochaeta CSE134 showed strongest activities against A. niger, and SMs from T. koningii CSE32 and F. oxysporum CAE14 showed strongest activities against A. fumigatus. In conclusion, given the globally recognized issue of antibiotic resistance and the urge to discover new antimicrobial substances, our findings provide new insights into the potential use of Cupressaceae's endophytic fungi in antifungal-based drug discovery programs.

Keywords: Aspergillus fumigatus; Aspergillus niger; Cupressaceae; Fungal endophytes; Secondary metabolites; Trichoderma atroviride; Trichoderma koningii.

MeSH terms

  • Antibiosis / physiology*
  • Antifungal Agents*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus* / growth & development
  • Aspergillus fumigatus* / pathogenicity
  • Aspergillus niger* / growth & development
  • Aspergillus niger* / pathogenicity
  • Cupressaceae / microbiology*
  • Endophytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Trichoderma / classification
  • Trichoderma / physiology


  • Antifungal Agents