Natural products from filamentous fungi and production by heterologous expression

Fabrizio Alberti, Gary Foster, Andrew M. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)
447 Downloads (Pure)


Filamentous fungi represent an incredibly rich and rather overlooked reservoir of natural products, which often show potent bioactivity and find applications in different fields. Increasing the naturally low yields of bioactive metabolites within their host producers can be problematic, and yield improvement is further hampered by such fungi often being genetic intractable or having demanding culturing conditions. Additionally, total synthesis does not always represent a cost effective approach for producing bioactive fungal-inspired metabolites, especially when pursuing assembly of compounds with complex chemistry. This review aims at providing insights into heterologous production of secondary metabolites from filamentous fungi, which has been established as a potent system for the biosynthesis of bioactive compounds. Numerous advantages are associated with this technique, such as the availability of tools that allow enhanced production yields and directing biosynthesis towards analogues of the naturally occurring metabolite. Furthermore, a choice of hosts is available for heterologous expression, going from model unicellular organisms to well-characterised filamentous fungi, which have also been shown to allow the study of biosynthesis of complex secondary metabolites. Looking to the future, fungi are likely to continue to play a substantial role as sources of new pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals – either as producers of novel natural products, or indeed as platforms to generate new compounds through synthetic biology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-500
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number2
Early online date13 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Structured keywords

  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • Fungi
  • Heterologous expression
  • Natural products
  • Gene clusters
  • Secondary metabolites


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