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Golden Mycological Triangle – joining forces to exploit mycological biodiversity for novel anti-infectives and other beneficial metabolites

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GoMyTri (Golden Mycological Triangle – joining forces to exploit mycological biodiversity for novel anti-infectives and other beneficial metabolites)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

The cooperation was intended to explore the mycological and microbiological biodiversity of Europe and Southeast Asia, in particular with regard to the search for the badly needed new antibiotics and other biologically active substances.
It has various possible impacts on society, ranging from basic research on fungal evolution and ecology to drug research and development of new biological control agents to replace hazardous chemicals in agriculture.
The project was conducted to foster international collaboration networks, know-how exchange and interdisciplinary training of young scientists. The partners are three research infrastructure organisations in Germany, the Netherlands and Thailand that are recognised internationally as strongholds in mycological, biotechnological and microbiological research. The medium term aim of the project, i.e. to attain a sustainable internationally visible strategic cooperation, including other departments of the institutions involved, has been accomplished because various new collaborations have already resulted from the working program and additional scientific working groups in the partner countries are actively involved. The quantitative goals of the working program were overachieved, and not even half of the novel bioactive metabolites discovered has so far been published. Moreover, numerous new fungal taxa that were identified among the newly isolated strains during the course of polyphasic taxonomic studies are still awaiting formal description.
The project also included the dissemination of data and results in Internet-based public domain databases and through interdisciplinary workshops, as well as on international conferences, to increase the awareness of the public and the stakeholders in industry. The goal of reaching public awareness, in particular in the scientific community, has definitely been reached through publication of numerous scientific papers the presentation of the project results on various conferences. The highlight of the project dissemination was the 11th Mycological Congress in Puerto Rico (July 2018), where over 20 contributions of the participating scientists, including plenary lectures, poster presentations and workshop presentations, were included in the scientific programme. However, the evaluation of the new compounds and candidate biocontrol agents discovered is still at a rather early stage. Hence, industrial collaborations to develop these candidates have not yet been initiated.
The first two years of the project were mainly dedicated to field work, and several hundreds of fungal cultures have been isolated from material mostly collected in Thailand. These fungal strains were characterised by morphological and molecular phylogenetic methods and several new taxa were discovered. The cultures underwent screening for antimicrobial and nematicidal metabolites and a number of bioactive metabolites have already been found, isolated and characterised. Over ten publications were already published.
During the course of the project over 20 researchers from Europe and Thailand were given the opportunity to work in the laboratory of the respective partner institutions and could learn new techniques and exchange methods and know-how with the staff of the host institute.
The project has resulted in many publications and several hundred new strains are avaialble for further studies. The partners will establiish a medium-to long term collaboration. Contacts of the European partners to other researchers in Thailand were already established and the first applications for grants for PhD candidates and postdocs between the partner institutions in the Netherlands, Germany and Thailand are already under way.
The ultimate goal of the project, i.e. to find candidate compounds for development of new antibiotics and other drugs. or fungal strains that are suitable for industrial partnering for biological control applications, however, can only be accomplished in the future.