New Trends from Fungi Secondary Metabolism in the Pharmaceutical Industry Chapter uri icon


  • Fungi are eukaryotic organisms that can produce a wide range of secondary metabolites with a significant impact on society. Some metabolites are exploited for their activity as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and anti-microbial agents, and in the production of cancer vaccines, among other pharmaceutical applications. Since the discovery of penicillin, the pharmaceutical industry has been greatly interested in fungi as sources of natural bioactive compounds, and fungi metabolites have made an indispensable contribution to improving human and animal health throughout the last decades. Starting with the development of antibiotics, the pharmaceutical industry has increasingly turned to these compounds for a variety of applications. The increase in the number of patents registered worldwide is a strong indicator that the market realizes the great potential of fungi secondary metabolites. In general, the pharmaceutical industry trend is centered on adopting different strategies to discover new drugs, and fungi secondary metabolites are viewed as having significant potential. This chapter explores the current pharmaceutical applications of secondary metabolites found in fungi. Initially, the most recent mushroom studies and their commercial pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical applications are explored. An overview of the different classes of fungi secondary metabolites with biologically relevant activities is then presented. Recently marine fungi were found to be a rich source of secondary metabolites. Due to the recent relevancy of marine fungi, an overview of marine fungi secondary metabolites with relevant pharmaceutical-related activities is also presented. Finally, the potential of fungi metabolites as a source of natural pigments and the methodologies used to characterize and explore fungi secondary metabolites are also analyzed.
  • The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) for financial support through national funds FCT/MCTES to CIMO (UIDB/00690/2020). L. Barros and R. Calhelha thank the national funding by FCT through the institutional scientific employment program-contract for their contract, while M. Carocho thank FCT through the individual scientific employment program-contracts (CEECIND/00831/2018).

publication date

  • 2023