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Aug 14

Antarctic seaweed fungus shows potential against infections and other diseases

A fungus that lives associated with an algae found in the waters of Antarctica shows antimicrobial potential, besides fighting diseases such as leishmaniasis and present photoprotective effect. The discovery was made in a study conducted at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto (FCFRP), USP, which evaluated the biological activity of the fungus Aspergillus unguis, obtained from the alga Palmaria decipiens. The study identified substances that present leishmanicidal activity against the parasite Leishmania braziliensis, which causes the disease, and also protect the alga from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.

Seaweed collection took place on Robert Island, Antarctica, which is part of the South Shetland Islands archipelago, between the Nelson Islands and Greenwich Islands. “The fungus is endophytic, that is, it inhabits the intra and intercellular spaces of a host, in this case the alga Palmaria decipiens, found in the waters of the region,” says researcher Verônica Rego de Moraes, responsible for the study. “In the laboratory, algae fragments were placed on a plate with medium conducive to the growth of microorganisms. Subsequently, the colony was isolated from the fungus and identified.
The research is part of the Brazilian Antarctic Program (Proantar) of the federal government, managed by the Interministerial Commission for the Resources of the Sea (CIRM), which is present in the Antarctic continent. The fungus was the object of biological evaluations from the crude extract, through the obtained fractions and reaching the isolated substances, in order to identify which have biological activity. “As antibiotic resistance is increasingly present in everyday life, antimicrobial activity has been analyzed because there is interest in finding new molecules that are effective against the most different types of microorganisms,” says Verônica.

“Through the test, the leishmanicidal activity was verified, because in addition to leishmaniasis being a neglected disease, the parasite developed resistance to first-line treatment, which may still cause cardiac complications,” says the researcher. “Photoprotection activity was also investigated, since the Antarctic continent is the most exposed to ultraviolet radiation from all continents, so it is believed that the micro and macro organisms of this environment produce substances capable of protecting them against possible solar damages. ”

Read more from the original article from the University of Sao Paulo News ( Portuguese)