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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2002 Sep;66(3):447-59, table of contents.

Relationship between secondary metabolism and fungal development.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115, USA.


Filamentous fungi are unique organisms-rivaled only by actinomycetes and plants-in producing a wide range of natural products called secondary metabolites. These compounds are very diverse in structure and perform functions that are not always known. However, most secondary metabolites are produced after the fungus has completed its initial growth phase and is beginning a stage of development represented by the formation of spores. In this review, we describe secondary metabolites produced by fungi that act as sporogenic factors to influence fungal development, are required for spore viability, or are produced at a time in the life cycle that coincides with development. We describe environmental and genetic factors that can influence the production of secondary metabolites. In the case of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans, we review the only described work that genetically links the sporulation of this fungus to the production of the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin through a shared G-protein signaling pathway.

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