Department of Microbial Drugs, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany; German Center for Infection Research, partner site Hannover-Braunschweig, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]
The Basidiomycota constitutes the second largest higher taxonomic group of the Fungi after the Ascomycota and comprises over 30.000 species. Mycelial cultures of Basidiomycota have already been studied since the 1950s for production of antibiotics and other beneficial secondary metabolites. Despite the fact that unique and selective compounds like pleuromutilin were obtained early on, it took several decades more until they were subjected to a systematic screening for antimicrobial and anticancer activities. These efforts led to the discovery of the strobilurins and several hundreds of further compounds that mainly constitute terpenoids. In parallel the traditional medicinal mushrooms of Asia were also studied intensively for metabolite production, aimed at finding new therapeutic agents for treatment of various diseases including metabolic disorders and the central nervous system. While the evaluation of this organism group has in general been more tedious as compared to the Ascomycota, the chances to discover new metabolites and to develop them further to candidates for drugs, agrochemicals and other products for the Life Science industry have substantially increased over the past decade. This is owing to the revolutionary developments in -OMICS techniques, bioinformatics, analytical chemistry and biotechnological process technology, which are steadily being developed further. On the other hand, the new developments in polythetic fungal taxonomy now also allow a more concise selection of previously untapped organisms. The current review is dedicated to summarize the state of the art and to give an outlook to further developments.