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Microorganisms 2013, 1(1), 175-187; doi:10.3390/microorganisms1010175

Article
Macroalgal Endophytes from the Atlantic Coast of Canada: A Potential Source of Antibiotic Natural Products?
Andrew J. Flewelling 1, Katelyn T. Ellsworth 1, Joseph Sanford 1, Erica Forward 1, John A. Johnson 1 and Christopher A. Gray 1,2,*
1
Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, 100 Tucker Park Road, Saint John, NB E2L 4L5, Canada; E-Mails: d17x5@unb.ca (A.J.F.); katie.ellsworth@dal.ca (K.T.E.); m4skb@unb.ca (J.S.); erica.forward@unb.ca (E.F.); jaj@unb.ca (J.A.J.)
2
Department of Chemistry, University of New Brunswick, 100 Tucker Park Road, Saint John, NB E2L 4L5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: cgray@unb.ca; Tel.: +1-506-648-5576.
Received: 9 October 2013; in revised form: 8 November 2013 / Accepted: 5 December 2013 /
Published: 12 December 2013

Abstract

: As the need for new and more effective antibiotics increases, untapped sources of biodiversity are being explored in an effort to provide lead structures for drug discovery. Endophytic fungi from marine macroalgae have been identified as a potential source of biologically active natural products, although data to support this is limited. To assess the antibiotic potential of temperate macroalgal endophytes we isolated endophytic fungi from algae collected in the Bay of Fundy, Canada and screened fungal extracts for the presence of antimicrobial compounds. A total of 79 endophytes were isolated from 7 species of red, 4 species of brown, and 3 species of green algae. Twenty of the endophytes were identified to the genus or species level, with the remaining isolates designated codes according to their morphology. Bioactivity screening assays performed on extracts of the fermentation broths and mycelia of the isolates revealed that 43 endophytes exhibited antibacterial activity, with 32 displaying antifungal activity. Endophytic fungi from Bay of Fundy macroalgae therefore represent a significant source of antibiotic natural products and warrant further detailed investigation.
Keywords:
marine macroalgae; endophyte; antibacterial; antifungal

1. Introduction

The threat to human health as a result of the growing emergence of microbial resistance to antibiotic agents is both real and significant; current forecasts predict that broad-scale antimicrobial ineffectiveness is imminent and we may soon once again face the problems that challenged medicine in the “pre-antibiotic” era [1,2,3]. There is, therefore, an urgent need to accelerate the discovery of antibiotic molecules to facilitate the development of new therapeutic agents with novel modes-of-action to combat infectious disease [4,5]. Endophytes of macroalgae have recently gained attention as an untapped source of biodiversity with potential to yield novel bioactive metabolites [6,7,8] and high proportions of isolates from both tropical [9] and temperate [10,11] environments have exhibited significant antibiotic activities. However, data relating to the bioactivity of endophyte assemblages obtained from a given algal species is limited; evaluating the true potential of macroalgal endophytes as a source of antibiotic compounds is therefore problematic. Recent reports also suggest that there may be significant differences in the endophyte assemblages found within tropical and temperate marine macroalgal hosts [9,11], although further work is required to confirm these preliminary observations. The objectives of this study were to perform a preliminary investigation of the endophytes from macroalgae from the Atlantic coast of Canada and evaluate their potential for the production of antimicrobial compounds.

2. Experimental Section

2.1. Algal Collection

Fourteen species of algae were collected from L’Etete, New Brunswick, Canada (45° 02.372′ N, 66° 53.424′ W) from August to November 2009. Seven species of red algae (Porphyra umbilicalis, Porphyra purpurea, Palmaria palmata, Chondrus crispus, Devaleraea ramentacea, Mastocarpus stellatus and Polysiphonia lanosa), four species of brown algae (Fucus spiralis, Fucus vesiculosus, Saccharina latissima and Ascophyllum nodosum) and three species of green algae (Spongomorpha arcta, Ulva intestinalis and Ulva lactuca) were investigated for the presence of endophytic fungi. In all cases algae with no obvious signs or symptoms of disease were used.

2.2. Surface Sterilization of Algae and Culture Techniques

The surfaces of the algal samples were sterilized by immersion in various sterilant solutions [11]. Prior to the isolation of endophytic fungi from marine algae, an optimal surface sterilization method was developed for each algal species (Table 1). Portions (5 cm2) of algal tissue were individually surface sterilized using the appropriate optimized technique, blotted dry on autoclaved paper towel and rubbed across the surface of 2 plates of 2% malt extract agar (MEA, Becton Dickinson, Sparks, MD, USA) prepared with artificial seawater (MEA-SW, 24.4 g·L−1; Instant Ocean® Sea Salt, Cincinnati, OH, USA) to verify surface sterilization had been effective. Sterilized algal species were cut using a sterile cork borer and placed on Petri plates of 2% MEA and 2% MEA with seawater. Petri plates were sealed with Parafilm™ (Pechiney Plastic Packaging Company, Chicago, IL, USA) prior to incubation.

Table Table 1. Surface sterilization techniques used on marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy, Canada. 1

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Table 1. Surface sterilization techniques used on marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy, Canada. 1
Algal SpeciesSterilant Immersion Duration (Seconds)
Bleach (5.25%)Ethanol (70%)
Chondrus crispus510
Devaleraea ramentacea510
Mastocarpus stellatus515
Palmaria palmata015
Polysiphonia lanosa010
Porphyra purpurea010
Porphyra umbilicalis010
Ascophyllum nodosum015
Fucus spiralis015
Fucus vesiculosus015
Saccharina latissima515
Spongomorpha arcta020
Ulva intestinalis020
Ulva lactuca020

1 All surface sterilizations were confirmed by the absence of microbial colony formation on 2 surface verification plates (2% malt extract with artificial seawater).

2.3. Isolation of Endophytes

Petri plates containing surface sterilized macroalgal pieces were incubated for 14 days at room temperature (approximately 25 °C) under ambient light conditions and monitored daily for the presence of hyphae growing from the cut edges of the algal segments. The isolation frequency (IF) of emerging hyphae was determined for each species of algae collected [12]:

Microorganisms 01 00175 i001
Endophytes growing from the cut edges of the segments were subcultured onto fresh media (2% MEA) to obtain pure isolates. Pure isolates were also grown on Czapek, potato dextrose, cornmeal and marine agars (Becton Dickinson, Sparks, MD, USA) to induce sporulation and differentiate between colony morphologies. Individual isolates from each algal species were then sorted into groups of homogeneous morphotypes, and a representative colony of each distinct isolate was used for the fungal identification, fermentation, and extraction.

2.4. Identification of Fungi

Fungal isolates were identified taxonomically through examination of colony and spore morphology with taxonomic classifications being confirmed by comparison of the internal transcribed spacer and 5.8S rRNA gene (ITS) DNA regions [13] with corresponding sequences available in the GenBank database (National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD, USA).

The genomic DNA of all distinct fungal isolates was extracted using a DNeasy® plant mini kit (Qiagen, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and amplified by PCR as previously described [11]. Samples of amplified ITS DNA were submitted for sequencing (Génome-Québec; Montreal, Québec, Canada) along with the ITS 1 and ITS 4 primers. The sequences obtained were checked for ambiguity and submitted to the GenBank database and compared with existing GenBank sequence data using BLAST. In cases where electrophoresis indicated that the DNA extraction/ PCR procedure had been unsuccessful, the procedure was repeated on a fresh sample of the fungal isolate.

Isolates identified taxonomically to species level had ≥99% sequence similarities to entries for conspecifics in GenBank, isolates identified to the genus level had ≥96% sequence similarities with congeneric species, and isolates identified to class level had sequence similarities ≥82% to entries from the corresponding taxonomic rank. Isolates that could not be unequivocally identified to species level based on morphological observations were only classified to the corresponding genus even when the sequence similarities ≥98% were obtained with sequence data for congeneric species in GenBank. If DNA from the ITS region was not isolated after three extraction/amplification attempts, the corresponding isolate was identified on morphological observations alone. Sterile isolates that did not provide sequence data upon repeated attempts were given codes according to their morphology in plate culture [9,14,15]. All distinct fungal isolates have been archived in the UNB Saint John fungal repository (Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada).

2.5. Preparation of Extracts

For each fungal isolate, a portion (5 mm2) of the fungal colony on solid medium was transferred to a 250 mL Erlenmeyer flask containing 2% Bacto™ malt extract broth (100 mL). Flasks were shaken (150 rpm) at room temperature under ambient light conditions for two weeks.

After incubation, the fungal mycelia from each culture were separated from the spent culture broth using vacuum filtration. Mycelia were extracted once with methanol (50 mL; Fisher Scientific, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) in the dark for 24 h at 4 °C, solid residue and cell debris were removed by vacuum filtration, and the resulting solution was concentrated in vacuo to give a crude fungal extract. The spent culture broths were extracted 3 times with 50 mL ethyl acetate (Fisher Scientific) and the combined organic extracts were concentrated in vacuo to give a crude extract of the growth media. All crude extracts were stored at −20 °C until required.

2.6. Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity Assay

Antibacterial and antifungal activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 10145), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 29213) and Candida albicans (ATCC 14053) was evaluated using a microbroth dilution antimicrobial susceptibility assay as previously described [11] with extracts being tested at a concentration of 200 μg·mL−1.

2.7. Statistical Analyses

Antimicrobial activities of extracts were compared to the negative control using the Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test as the data was not normally distributed (Shapiro-Wilk, p < 0.05) and the variances were not equal (Levene’s test, p < 0.05). Post hoc analysis (stepwise-stepdown) was performed to determine which extracts differed from the negative control. Crude extracts were defined as biologically active if their effect on the growth of the test organism was significantly different (p < 0.05) to the negative control (0% inhibition). All statistical tests were performed using SPSS (PASW Statistics 18, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA).

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Isolation of Endophytic Fungi from Marine Algae

The Bay of Fundy, with its extreme tidal range, presents a unique temperate habitat and supports a high diversity of marine macroalgal species [16,17], many of which have not been investigated for the presence of endophytes. Our results indicate that these algae support a sizeable and diverse assemblage of endophytes: fungi were isolated from 632 out of a total 3081 algal pieces resulting in an overall isolation frequency of 26% (Table 2). The isolation frequencies of endophytic fungi varied by host, with the highest isolation frequencies obtained from the red algae P. palmata and P. umbilicalis, at rates of 87% and 72% respectively (Table 2). The lowest isolation frequencies were from the red alga C. crispus at a rate of 0.08% (Table 2).

Table Table 2. Isolation frequencies and distinct number of isolates of endophytic fungi from marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy, Canada.

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Table 2. Isolation frequencies and distinct number of isolates of endophytic fungi from marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy, Canada.
Seaweed SpeciesTotal Algae SegmentsPieces with Endophytic GrowthIsolation Frequency (%)Distinct Fungal Taxa
Chondrus crispus24620.082
Devaleraea ramentacea108464313
Mastocarpus stellatus9832339
Palmaria palmata167146877
Polysiphonia lanosa6712185
Porphyra purpurea8517202
Porphyra umbilicalis217156723
Ascophyllum nodosum15216111
Fucus spiralis1921684
Fucus vesiculosus109661
Saccharina latissima113895813
Spongomorpha arcta184492711
Ulva intestinalis11724215
Ulva lactuca2011583
Total30816322679

Seventy-nine distinct endophyte species were isolated from the ten algal hosts (Table 3). The number of distinct fungal isolates obtained varied by host with a maximum of 13 endophytic fungal species from D. ramentacea and S. latissima to a minimum of one from A. nodosum and F. vesiculosus (Table 3). Penicillium spp. were isolated from seven algae: C. crispus, D. ramentacea, M. stellatus, P. palmata, S. latissima, S. arcta and U. lactuca with a total of 11 isolates representing the six species isolated (Table 3). Six distinct Aspergillus spp. were isolated from five algae species: C. crispus, P. umbilicalis, A. nodosum, S. latissima and U. intestinalis (Table 3). Botrytis sp. was isolated from two algal hosts (D. ramentacea and P. palmata; Table 3) as was Aureobasidium pullulans (D. ramentacea and P. lanosa; Table 3). Cladosporium sp., Trametes versicolor, Coniothyrium sp., Coelomycete I, Hypoxylon sp., Helicomyces sp. and Botryotinia fuckeliana were only isolated from one host (Table 3).

Table Table 3. Identification of endophytic fungi isolated from marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy.

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Table 3. Identification of endophytic fungi isolated from marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy.
Host speciesIsolate SpeciesAccession number
Chondrus crispusAF8-053Aspergillus sp. IKF572134
AF8-129Penicillium crustosum IKF572146
Devaleraea ramentaceaAF8-079Cladosporium sp.KF572136
AF8-081Septate Pigmented I-
AF8-083Septate Pigmented II-
AF8-085Sterile Hyaline I-
AF8-087Sterile Hyaline II-
AF8-089Botrytis sp. I-
AF8-091Penicillium decumbens IKF572138
AF8-093Septate Pigmented III-
AF8-095Aureobasidium pullulans I-
Devaleraea ramentaceaAF8-109Trametes versicolorKF572133
AF8-111White Fluffy II-
AF8-113Coniothyrium sp.KF572141
AF8-115Botrytis sp. II-
Mastocarpus stellatusAF8-055Penicillium sp.-
AF8-057Red Yeast I-
AF8-059Septate Pigmented IV-
AF8-061Red Yeast II-
AF8-063Sterile Hyaline III-
AF8-065Sterile Hyaline IV-
AF8-067Coelomycete I-
AF8-101Penicillium decumbens IIKF572139
Palmaria palmataAF8-069Sterile Hyaline V-
AF8-071Hypoxylon sp.KF572135
AF8-073Penicillium decumbens IIIKF572149
AF8-075Penicillium chrysogenum IKF572137
AF8-077Helicomyces sp.-
AF8-103Penicillium crustosum IIKF572147
AF8-105Botrytis sp. III-
AF8-107Sterile Hyaline VI-
AF8-123Sterile Hyaline VII-
Polysiphonia lanosaAF8-097Sterile Hyaline VIII-
AF8-099Aureobasidium pullulans IIKF572140
AF8-117Sterile Hyaline IX-
AF8-119Botryotinia fuckelianaKF572148
AF8-121Sterile Hyaline X-
Porphyra purpureaAF8-125Sterile Hyaline XI-
AF8-127Sterile Hyaline XII-
Porphyra umbilicalisAF8-049Sterile Hyaline XIII-
AF8-051Sterile Hyaline XIV-
AF8-131Aspergillus sydowiiKF572145
Ascophyllum nodosumAF1-141BAspergillus sp. II-
Fucus spiralisAF1-021ABlack Hyaline I-
AF1-021BSeptate Pigmented V-
AF1-021DPigmented Hyaline I-
AF1-021GSterile Hyaline XV-
Fucus vesiculosusAF2-059ASterile Hyaline XXI-
Saccharina latissimaAF1-029A2White Hyaline IV-
AF1-029B2Black Hyaline II-
AF1-073CPenicillium chrysogenum IIKF572144
AF1-073DAspergillus sp. III-
AF1-073EWhite Hyaline I-
AF1-073GSterile Beige I-
AF1-073NSterile Beige II-
AF2-055BPenicillium soppii IKF572151
AF2-055FSterile Hyaline XVI-
AF2-055GWhite Hyaline II-
AF2-055OPenicillium chrysogenum IIIKF572150
AF2-055PPigmented Hyaline IV(Red)-
Spongomorpha arctaAF1-037C2Sterile Hyaline XVII-
AF1-037FSterile Beige III-
AF1-153APigmented Hyaline VII-
AF1-153BSterile Hyaline XVIII-
AF1-153CWhite Hyaline III-
AF1-153DPenicillium spinulosumKF572143
AF1-153HBlack Hyaline III-
AF1-153JPigmented Hyaline VI-
AF1-153LPigmented Hyaline V-
AF1-153MPenicillium sp.KF572152
AF1-153NPenicillium soppii II-
Ulva intestinalisAF2-063CSterile Hyaline XIX-
AF2-063ESeptate Pigmented VIII-
AF2-063FPigmented Hyaline VIII-
AF2-063GAspergillus sp. V-
AF2-063HSeptate Pigmented VI-
Ulva lactucaAF1-033A2Septate Pigmented VII-
AF1-033BSterile Hyaline XX-
AF1-033CPenicillium chrysogenum IVKF572142

The majority of isolates (74%), however, could neither be identified morphologically nor through the use of molecular genetic techniques. These isolates were designated codes according to their plate morphology (Table 3). This proportion of sterile mycelia (74%) is high in comparison to other marine macroalgal endophytes from the North Atlantic (45%) [11] and may have contributed to a correspondingly lower success rate observed for the molecular identification of isolates in this study (26% compared with 55% for endophytes isolated from macroalgae of the Shetland Islands, UK) [11]. The magnitude of these discrepancies is surprising and may be due to the particular assemblage of fungal species isolated from the Bay of Fundy algae. Further work will be required to optimize procedures used for molecular identification of sterile algal endophytes in an effort to increase our ability to identify fungi isolated from this source.

Penicillium spp. and Aspergillus spp. are common endophytes of marine macroalgae [9,11], and represent nearly one quarter (24%, 19/79 isolates) of the distinct isolates obtained from macroalgae of the Bay of Fundy. The majority of fungi obtained from Bay of Fundy macroalgae were isolated as sterile mycelia and several of the endophytes, i.e., Botrytis spp., Hypoxylon sp., and Helicomyces sp., have not been previously isolated from marine algal hosts. Many of the macroalgae investigated in this study, S. latissima, S. arcta, P. purpurea, P. umbilicalis, P. palmata, M. stellatus and D. ramentacea, have not been previously investigated for their endophytic fungi. Endophytes have previously been reported from A. nodosum, F. spiralis, F. vesiculosus, P. lanosa, U. intestinalis and U. lactuca [9,11,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30]. However, there was a high degree of variability in the diversity of fungi obtained in these studies, which suggests limited host specificity of these fungal endophytes to their hosts.

A point of particular interest is the fact that none of the fungi isolated from the brown alga A. nodosum were identified as Mycosphaerella ascophylli, despite it being a well documented endophyte of that host [18,19,20,21,22,24,27,28,30]. Whilst it is possible that M. ascophylli may not have been isolated due to the particular sterilization and culture conditions used or the low growth rate of the fungus [19], it is more probable that M. ascophylli is represented in the mycelia sterilia obtained from A. nodosum as it is known to display a sterile morphotype of fine white septate hyphae [19,31].

3.2. Antimicrobial Screening Results of Algal-Derived Fungal Endophytes

Crude extracts of the endophyte isolates were screened against three pathogenic microorganisms, the Gram positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, the Gram negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the fungus Candida albicans. Extracts were defined as bioactive if they inhibited growth of the test organism in comparison to the negative control as indicated by heterogeneous subsets (p < 0.05) identified through post hoc testing of Kruskal-Wallis analyses. Seventy-eight crude extracts, tested at 200.0 μg·mL−1, inhibited at least one of the test microorganisms. Forty-four crude extracts significantly inhibited the growth of S. aureus, whereas, 18 and 36 extracts inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa and C. albicans, respectively. These extracts were derived from 57 individual fungal isolates (Table 4) and comprised 39 mycelia-derived and 39 medium-derived crude extracts. Of the 156 crude extracts tested, 59 showed activity against only 1 test microorganism, 18 inhibited 2 microorganisms, and 1 showed activity against all 3 test microorganisms (Table 4). In this study, 73% of the isolates (57/78) were found to have antimicrobial activity against P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, and C. albicans (43/78, 55% antibacterial; 32/78, 41%, antifungal). The antimicrobial screening results of this study are comparable to those obtained from marine algae of the Shetland Islands, UK where 61% of the isolates (39/64) had activity against at least one of the same three test organisms (36/64 isolates antibacterial and 24/64 isolates antifungal) [11]. However, these antimicrobial screening results are in contrast to those obtained from endophytic fungi of macroalgae of the Southern Indian coast (82%, 31/38 isolates) [9] and the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas (83%, 249/300) [10]. The crude extracts showing strong antimicrobial bioactivity in this work should be investigated to identify the biologically active constituents responsible for the observed bioactivity.

Table Table 4. Activity of crude extracts showing significant inhibition to S. aureus, P. aeruginosa and C. albicans, obtained from endophytic fungi isolated from marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy.

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Table 4. Activity of crude extracts showing significant inhibition to S. aureus, P. aeruginosa and C. albicans, obtained from endophytic fungi isolated from marine algae collected from the Bay of Fundy.
Fungal TaxaHost AlgaExtract 1 SourceInhibition (%) 2
SA 3PA 3CA 3
Aspergillus sp. IC. crispusMycelia-18 ± 1-
Aspergillus sp. IC. crispusMedia28 ± 3-15 ± 3
Penicillium crustosum IC. crispusMedia43 ± 1--
Cladosporium sp.D. ramentaceaMycelia36 ± 19 ± 1-
Septate Pigmented ID. ramentaceaMycelia--17 ± 2
Sterile Hyaline ID. ramentaceaMycelia-20 ± 1-
Sterile Hyaline ID. ramentaceaMedia29 ± 2--
Botrytis sp. ID. ramentaceaMycelia94 ± 1--
P. decumbens ID. ramentaceaMycelia36 ± 4-98 ± 1
P. decumbens ID. ramentaceaMedia--99 ± 1
Septate Pigmented IIID. ramentaceaMycelia47 ± 4--
Aureobasidium pullulans ID. ramentaceaMedia82 ± 451 ± 213 ± 2
Trametes versicolorD. ramentaceaMycelia-17 ± 2-
White Fluffy IID. ramentaceaMedia--12 ± 1
Coniothyrium sp.D. ramentaceaMycelia31 ± 1--
Coniothyrium sp.D. ramentaceaMedia25 ± 228 ± 2-
Botrytis sp. IID. ramentaceaMycelia--14 ± 1
Botrytis sp. IID. ramentaceaMedia97 ± 1--
Red Yeast IM. stellatusMycelia31 ± 2--
Septate Pigmented IVM. stellatusMycelia-16 ± 3-
Septate Pigmented IVM. stellatusMedia23 ± 1-70 ± 3
P. decumbens IIM. stellatusMedia--12 ± 1
Sterile Hyaline VP. palmataMycelia-11 ± 115 ± 4
Sterile Hyaline VP. palmataMedia--16 ± 1
Hypoxylon sp.P. palmataMycelia-13 ± 330 ± 3
Hypoxylon sp.P. palmataMedia--18 ± 2
P. decumbens IIIP. palmataMycelia--16 ± 5
P. chrysogenum IP. palmataMedia58 ± 3--
Helicomyces sp.P. palmataMycelia21 ± 1--
Helicomyces sp.P. palmataMedia--21 ± 5
P. crustosum IIP. palmataMycelia82 ± 5-22 ± 3
P. crustosum IIP. palmataMedia39 ± 2--
Botrytis sp. IIIP. palmataMedia92 ± 1--
Sterile Hyaline VIP. palmataMycelia--13 ± 2
Sterile Hyaline VIP. palmataMedia19 ± 6--
Sterile Hyaline VIIP. palmataMedia90 ± 2-24 ± 2
Aureobasidium pullulans IIP. lanosaMycelia49 ± 134 ± 3-
Sterile Hyaline IXP. lanosaMedia--40 ± 5
Botryotinia fuckelianaP. lanosaMycelia96 ± 1-30 ± 2
Botryotinia fuckelianaP. lanosaMedia41 ± 2--
Sterile Hyaline XP. lanosaMycelia--20 ± 11
Sterile Hyaline XIP. purpureaMycelia22 ± 1--
Sterile Hyaline XIP. purpureaMedia34 ± 9--
Sterile Hyaline XIIP. purpureaMycelia50 ± 1--
Sterile Hyaline XIIIP. umbilicalis Media--33 ± 1
Sterile Hyaline XIVP. umbilicalisMycelia-14 ± 127 ± 6
Sterile Hyaline XIVP. umbilicalisMedia22 ± 5--
Aspergillus sydowiiP. umbilicalisMedia51 ± 3--
Aspergillus sp. IIA. nodosumMycelia66 ± 4--
Aspergillus sp. IIA. nodosumMedia85 ± 1-15 ± 3
Black Hyaline IF. spiralisMedia41 ± 2--
Septate Pigmented VF. spiralisMycelia39 ± 38 ± 1-
Septate Pigmented VF. spiralisMedia27 ± 3--
Pigmented Hyaline IF. spiralisMycelia53 ± 4--
White Hyaline IVS. latissimaMedia--30 ± 1
Black Hyaline IIS. latissimaMycelia--13 ± 5
P. chrysogenum IIS. latissimaMycelia25 ± 4--
P. chrysogenum IIS. latissimaMedia31 ± 4--
Aspergillus sp. IIIS. latissimaMycelia25 ± 1--
Sterile Beige IIS. latissimaMedia--14 ± 3
White Hyaline IIS. latissimaMycelia28 ± 3-27 ± 5
White Hyaline IIS. latissimaMedia21 ± 1-18 ± 9
Pigmented Hyaline IV(Red)S. latissimaMycelia-12 ± 1-
Pigmented Hyaline IV(Red)S. latissimaMedia--17 ± 1
Sterile Hyaline XVIIS. arctaMycelia--13 ± 1
Pigmented Hyaline VIIS. arctaMedia-15 ± 3-
White Hyaline IIIS. arctaMycelia27 ± 7--
White Hyaline IIIS. arctaMedia--13 ± 3
Penicillium spinulosumS. arctaMycelia65 ± 4--
Penicillium spinulosumS. arctaMedia37 ± 1--
Pigmented Hyaline VS. arctaMedia87 ± 3-82 ± 1
Septate Pigmented VIIIS. arctaMycelia-17 ± 1-
Septate Pigmented VIIIS. arctaMedia36 ± 2--
Penicillium soppii IIS. arctaMedia-9 ± 3-
Sterile Hyaline XIXU. intestinalisMedia-9 ± 222 ± 2
Septate Pigmented VIU. intestinalisMycelia--13 ± 2
Septate Pigmented VIIU. lactucaMycelia--18 ± 2
Sterile Hyaline XXU. lactucaMycelia-24 ± 3-

1 Crude extracts were tested at 200.0 μg·mL−1; activity is defined as microbial inhibition significantly differing from negative control; 2 Percentage inhibition is represented as the mean of 3 readings ± SE; 3 SA: Staphylococcus aureus; PA: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; CA: Candida albicans.

4. Conclusions

Our research has demonstrated that marine macroalgae from the Bay of Fundy, Canada, have the potential to be an excellent source of endophytic fungi. Seventy-eight distinct isolates were obtained from 14 algal hosts, with most of the endophytes that could be taxonomically identified belonging to the genera Penicillium and Aspergillus. The results from the antimicrobial screening on the mycelium and broth extracts of the endophytic fungi suggest that they are a promising source of antimicrobial extracts, with 18 extracts exhibiting >50% inhibition in the screening assays. These crude extracts should be subjected to bioassay-guided fractionation in an attempt to identify the bioactive constituents of the extracts. Further work should also be focused on improving the rate of identification either through the use of molecular techniques, as only 26% of the obtained isolates were identified through this method, or through the induction of conidia or other distinguishing morphological characteristics. The results from this study has led to further work into the endophytic fungi of Atlantic coast marine macroalgae, with a current investigation now focused on the isolation, identification and antimicrobial screening of endophytic fungi from the diverse range of macroalgae present in the Bay of Fundy.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Christopher Martyniuk and Thierry Chopin (University of New Brunswick, Saint John, Canada) for their assistance in the isolation and amplification of DNA and the identification of the host algae, respectively. Financial support for this research was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Discovery Grant to C.A.G.; USRA to E.F.), the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (Seed Operating Grant to C.A.G. and J.A.J.), the Harrison McCain Foundation (Young Scholar Award to C.A.G.) and UNB (University Research Fund grants to C.A.G. and J.A.J.; Vaughan Fellowship to A.J.F.) and is gratefully acknowledged.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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