Background: Endophytes represent a complex community of
asymptomatically internal tissues of higher plants. Several reports have
shown that endophytes enhance fitness
of their host plants by direct production of bioactive secondary
metabolites, which are involved in protecting the
host against herbivores and pathogenic microbes. In addition, it is
increasingly apparent that endophytes are able
to biosynthesize medicinally important “phytochemicals”, originally
believed to be produced only by their host
Objective: The present review provides an overview of secondary metabolites
from endophytic fungi with
pronounced biological activities covering the literature between 2010 and
2017. Special focus is given on
studies aiming at exploration of the mode of action of these metabolites
towards the discovery of leads from
endophytic fungi. Moreover, this review critically evaluates the potential
of endophytic fungi as alternative
sources of bioactive “plant metabolites”.
Results: Over the past few years, several promising lead structures from
endophytic fungi have been described
in the literature. In this review, 65 metabolites are outlined with
pronounced biological activities, primarily as
antimicrobial and anticancer agents. Some of these metabolites have shown to
be highly selective (non-toxic) or
to possess novel mechanisms of action, which hold great promises as
potential drug candidates.
Conclusion: Endophytes represent an inexhaustible reservoir of
pharmacologically important compounds.
Moreover, endophytic fungi could be exploited for sustainable production of
bioactive “plant metabolites” in the
future. Towards this aim, further insights into the dynamic endophyte –
host plant interactions and origin of
endophytic fungal genes would be of utmost importance.