Isolation of endophytic fungi with antimicrobial activity from medicinal plant Zanthoxylum simulans Hance

Abstract

Fungal endophytes have been found to exist in many plant species and appear to be important to their plant hosts. However, the diversity and biological activities of these fungi remain largely unknown. Zanthoxylum simulans Hance, a popular natural spice and medicinal plant, commonly known as Szechuan pepper or Chinese-pepper, grows on Kinmen Island, Taiwan. In this study, leaf and stem samples of Z. simulans, collected in summer and winter, were screened for antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory metabolite-producing endophytic fungi. A total of 113 endophytic strains were isolated and cultured from Z. simulans, among which 23 were found to possess antimicrobial activity, belonging to six fungal genera: Penicillium (26.09%, 6), Colletotrichum (21.74%, 5), Diaporthe (21.74%, 5), Daldinia (17.39%, 4), Alternaria (8.70%, 2), and Didymella (4.34%, 1). We also found that the number of species with antimicrobial activity and their compositions differed between summer and winter. Our study demonstrated that Z. simulans might contain large and diverse communities of endophytic fungi, and its community composition varies seasonally. In addition, fungal endophytes produce antimicrobial agents, which may protect their hosts against pathogens and could be a potential source of natural antibiotics.

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Data availability

Specimens of fungi after identification were deposited at the Department of Food Science, National Kinmen University, Kinmen, Taiwan, Republic of China. All data generated during the study are interpreted in the manuscript.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Guei-Jane Wang, who performed the determination of antioxidant activity, and Hsi-Tsun Chen, who serves in Kinmen County Forestry Bureau and assisted with the identification of plant samples. We are also grateful to Ching-Chang Hung for providing images of the plant.

Funding

Financial support was received from the Kinmen County Fisheries Research Institute (grant number 106G019-1) by W.-C. Chi.

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WCC took charge of the experimental design. Collection of leaves and stems of Zanthoxylum simulans in Kinmen was carried out by WCC. WCC and CFC isolated and identified endophytic fungi. WCC and KJ interpreted the results, conducted phytochemical screening, and wrote and finalized the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Wei-Chiung Chi.

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Kuo, J., Chan, CF. & Chi, WC. Isolation of endophytic fungi with antimicrobial activity from medicinal plant Zanthoxylum simulans Hance. Folia Microbiol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12223-021-00854-4

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