Antifungals, arthropods and antifungal resistance prevention: lessons from ecological interactions.


Kett S(1), Pathak A(2), Turillazzi S(3)(4), Cavalieri D(3), Marvasi M(3).
Author information:
(1)Department of Natural Sciences, Middlesex University London, London, UK.
(2)Institute of Integrative Biology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland.
(3)Department of Biology, University of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, Florence, Italy.
(4)Insect Pharma Entomotherapy S.r.l, Sesto Fiorentino, Florence, Italy.


Arthropods can produce a wide range of antifungal compounds, including specialist proteins, cuticular products, venoms and haemolymphs. In spite of this, many arthropod taxa, particularly eusocial insects, make use of additional antifungal compounds derived from their mutualistic association with microbes. Because multiple taxa have evolved such mutualisms, it must be assumed that, under certain ecological circumstances, natural selection has favoured them over those relying upon endogenous antifungal compound production. Further, such associations have been shown to persist versus specific pathogenic fungal antagonists for more than 50 million years, suggesting that compounds employed have retained efficacy in spite of the pathogens' capacity to develop resistance. We provide a brief overview of antifungal compounds in the arthropods' armoury, proposing a conceptual model to suggest why their use remains so successful. Fundamental concepts embedded within such a model may suggest strategies by which to reduce the rise of antifungal resistance within the clinical milieu.