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Bioactive molecules from endophytic micro-organisms

Initial Situation

Endophytic organisms live in symbiotic communities with plants and produce so-called secondary metabolites that are of high interest for pharmaceutical applications in that they show biological activity.

Even if the metabolites produced by the organisms do not display exceptionally high biological activity, they are still of inestimable value, as they occasionally display new chemical lead structures from which many new compounds may be deduced.

Of special interest in the search for such new chemical structures are protected or extreme ecosystems, for example the tropical rainforest, where a multiplicity of still unknown plant metabolites are generated under the predominant climatic conditions. However, other extreme locations, for instance volcanic or permafrost regions, are habitats for so-called extremophiles which in turn synthesize exotic new molecules within their secondary metabolism.


Figure 31: //Nothapodytes foetida// in the garden of the Regional Research Laboratory Jammu



Within the scope of the research project of the Institute of Environmental Research, endophytic fungi growing on the tree Mappia foetida (found mainly in Kashmir, India) have been analyzed. The climate in Kashmir is characterized by hot summers and winters that are, in part, extremely cold.


Figure 32: 20(S)-Camptothecin


Camptothecin (Fig. 32) offers high potential in cancer therapy. It is the aim of the project to obtain camptothecin from the endophytic organism and to compare its identity with synthetically accessible material. However, due to the restricted availability of plant material, it is only producible in minimal (insufficient) quantities. A biotechnological method based on the extraction of camptothecin from endophytic fungi would lead to much higher availability of the active component.

In this common project, the well-established microbiological methods for isolating fungi at the Regional Research Laboratory, RRL in Jammu, Kashmir are utilized and are combined with the spectroscopic expertise of the Institute of Environmental Research in Dortmund.



International Office Ministry for Education and Research



  1. Nazir, A.; Verma, V.; Puri, S.C.; Riyaz-Ul-Hassan, S.; Spiteller, M. ; Qazi, G.N. (2007):
    "Endophytes as potential sources for bioactive molecules: First report of Podophyllo- toxin and allied lignans from an endophytic fungus" Canadian Journal of Microbiology in preparation.
  2. Puri, S. C.; Amna, T.; Arora, R.; Singh, S.; Chawla, R.; Sharma, R. K.; Spiteller, M.; Qazi, G. N. (2007):
    "Pro- and Antioxidant activities of extracts of Entrophosphora infrequens, a camptothecin- producing endophytic fungus associated with the medicinal plant Nothapodytes foetida" Journal of Applied Microbiology in preparation.
  3. Amna, T.; Puri, S. C.; Verma, V.; Sharma, J. P.; Khajuria, R. K.; Musarrat, J.;Spiteller, M.; Qazi, G. N. (2006):
    "Bioreactor Studies on the endophytic Fungus entrophospora infrequens for the Production of an anticancer alkaloid Camptothecin" Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 52(3), 189-196.
  4. Bhat, B.A. ; Dhar, K.L.; Puri, S.C.; Spiteller, M. (2006):
    "A Novel One Pot Rearrangement Reaction of 2,3,- Epoxydiaryl Ketones: Synthesis of +/- - 5,5- Disubstituted Imidadazolones and 5,5- Disubstituted Hydantoins" SynLett, 17, 2723-2726.
  5. Puri, S.C.; Handa, G.; Bhat, B.A.; Dhar, K.L.; Spiteller, M.; Qazi, G.N. (2006):
    "Characterization of Two Epimers, 4 α and 4 β, of a Novel Podophyllotoxin - 4- 0- (D)- 6- Acetylglucopyranoside from Podophyllum hexandrum by LC- ESI- MS- MS" Journal of Chromatographic Science, 44 (5), 239-243.
  6. Smelcerovic, A.; Verma, V.; Spiteller, M.; Ahmad, S. M.; Puri, S. C.; Qazi, G. N. (2006):
    "Phytochemical analysis and genetic characterisation of six Hypericum species from Serbia" Phytochemistry, 67, 171-177.
  7. Chawla, R.; Arora, R.; Sagar, R. K.; Singh, S.; Puri, S. C.; Kumar, R.; Singh, S.; Sharma, A. K.; Prasad, J.; Khan, H. A.; Sharma, R. K; Dhar, K. L., Spiteller, M.; Qazi, G. N. (2005):
    "3- O- ß- D- Galactopyranoside of Quercetin as an Active Principle from High Altitude Podophyllum hexandrum and Evaluation of its Radioprotective Properties" Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, 60c, 728-738.
  8. Puri, S. C.; Verma, V.; Amina, T.; Qazi, G. N.; Spiteller, M. (2005):
    "An endophytic fungus from Nothapodytes foetida that produces camptothecin" Journal of Natural Products, 68 (12), 1717-1719.

Sub content


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Spiteller
Tel.: 0231 755-4080

Dr. rer. nat. G. N. Qazi
Phone: +91 (191) 544430