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Exploring antimicrobial, anticancer and antiparasitic compounds from bacterial symbionts isolated from Acromyrmex ants, collected in São Paulo State, Brazil

Grant number: 16/20154-0
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2017
Effective date (End): November 30, 2017
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Mônica Tallarico Pupo
Grantee:Humberto Enrique Ortega Dominguez
Supervisor abroad: Timothy S. Bugni
Home Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto (FCFRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:14/14095-6 - Bacterial symbionts isolated from fungus-growing ants collected in remaining hotspots of biodiversity in São Paulo State as sources of antiparasitic compounds, BP.DD

Abstract

The fungus-growing ants (Tribe Attini) comprise more than 230 species. All depend on the cultivation of fungal gardens for food. They can be divided currently into five distinct agricultural systems: lower agriculture; coral fungus agriculture; yeast agriculture; generalized higher agriculture; and leaf-cutter agriculture that has evolved more recently to become the dominant herbivores of the New World tropics. The leaf-cutter agriculture involves different species of two major genera; Atta and Acromyrmex, with the ability to cut and process fresh vegetation as a nutritional substrate for their fungal crop. Several compounds have been published from symbionts of fungus-growing ants with a wide spectrum of biological activities. The best example, in bioactive natural product discovery from this symbiotic system, is the description of a new cyclic depsipeptide, dentigerumycin, produced by the symbiotic Pseudonocardia strain, isolated from the exoskeleton of the coral fungus agriculture ant, Apterostigma dentigerum. This compound has a selective inhibition against the pathogenic fungus Escovopsis sp., and also has a potent inhibitory activity against several Candida albicans strains. In this ongoing PhD project, we have found that leaf-cutting ants Acromyrmex subterraneus brunneus, and Acromyrmex rugosus rugosus colonies have bacterial symbionts that produce secondary metabolites able to inhibit the growing of the specialized pathogenic fungus Escovopsis sp, and parasites Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania donovani. Several known antibiotic and cytotoxic compounds, together with new analogues have been identified. The main objectives of the sandwich doctorate at Timothy S. Bugni’s laboratory at School of Pharmacy of University of Wisconsin will be: chemical studies of selected bacterial symbionts involved in fungus-growing ants ecosystems to discovery new antimicrobial, cytotoxic and antiparasitic compounds, using different culture technics, modern mass spectrometry and NMR analyses, and bio-guided fractionation. This internship is in concordance to FAPESP PhD project. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP about the scholarship:
Compound that kills drug-resistant fungi is isolated from ant microbiota 
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