Fungi Extract Bank

Bialystok University of Technology created the Fungi Extract Bank

Many years of experience of specialists participating in the project, up-to-date knowledge and far-reaching national and international cooperation – thanks to such foundations, as well as passion and intuition of experts connected with the Białowieża Forest, it was possible to create the Fungi Extract Bank.

The Fungi Extract Bank was initiated in 2015 by Sławomir Bakier (Prof. DSc), Ewa Zapora (PhD) and Marek Wołkowycki. Their interest in extracts was the result of collaboration with Prof. Jordan K. Zjawed from the University of Mississippi (USA) and experience gained during 3-year implementation of innovative research project financed by the National Science Foundation, i.e. IRES: U.S.-Poland Student Research Experience to Study Plant Species Interactions in the Unique Ecosystem of the Białowieża Forest.

The project included plans for the development of research on the biological activity of various fungi species, which directly translated into an increased practicality of the results and opportunities for their commercialization.

The uniqueness of the Białowieża Forest and all the fungi present in this region (microbiota) offer the best chance to discover unknown to science species and study fungal biological properties, in cooperation with different research units. In accordance with current knowledge, fungi are known only to a relatively small extent when compared to organisms classified in other Kingdoms. So far, just about 3-8% of known species of fungi have been adequately described, and knowledge on their biological activity is especially poor.

Unusual properties of medicinal fungi

Fungi produce a whole spectrum of specific chemical substances (rare in other groups of organisms), which have multidirectional effects. A single fungi species can show a whole range of biological properties.

A great increase in interest in fungi as reservoirs of natural active compounds observed in recent years has been due to the wide spectrum of their biological activity. The possibility of using fungi for obtaining medicinal preparations is determined by two important features of fungi: ability to produce secondary metabolites with the potent biological activity and enzymatic apparatus, enabling the performance of complex biotransformation reactions.

Medicinal fungi are a group with proven strong pharmacological properties. Studies confirm their anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, antiparasitic, antihypercholesterolemic, detoxifying, hepatoprotective and antidiabetic effects. Among the currently known and described medicinal fungi, there are about 30 species who have been comprehensively studied.

Photochemical studies on medicinal fungi have led to the identification of many chemical compounds responsible for particular directions of the pharmacological action. Often complex preparations obtained from fungi show higher pharmacological activity than isolated, pure substances.

Continuous work - constantly growing resources of the Fungi Bank

The most effective, obtained from macrofungi (Macromycetes) and used in medicine, are polysaccharide fractions, which are mainly β-glucans, and polysaccharide-protein complexes. Also numerous bioactive compounds are triterpenoids, phenolic acids, glycoproteins and steroids.

The Fungi Extract Bank is a collection of extracts from several hundred species of macrofungi – mostly from the morphological group of polypoid fungi (mainly saprophytes and parasites living on alive or dead wood). Work on the acquisition of new research material has been continuing uninterruptedly, so that the Bank is constantly increasing its resources.

The collection of extracts comprise fungi species from Europe, Asia and both Americas, however the majority of extracts has been derived from samples collected in the Białowieża Forest sites. It is worth noting that the samples are taken from different substrate types, which is important in chemical analyses and studies on the biological activity of fungi.

Author

mgr inż. Sylwia Lewsza

Photos

Politechnika Białostocka