Background: Despite the recognition that endophytic fungi are an important source of diverse and
unique natural bioactive products, there are no reviews outlining how African researchers have been
tapping into this bioresource.
Objective: This review aims to consolidate and provide insights into the research on fungal endophytes
in Africa during the period 1994-2014.
Methods: A predefined search protocol was used to undertake a structured search of the bibliographic
databases for peer-reviewed research literature. Literature that met the inclusion criteria was then analysed
using semi-quantitative and qualitative techniques.
Results: One hundred and thirty – nine papers from only 20 African countries met the inclusion criteria,
with Egypt (35 papers) and South Africa (31 papers) being the leading countries. The main areas of research
were biology and diversity determination (38.1%), bioprospecting for compounds with pharmaceutical
potential (35.3%) and assessment of the ability of endophytic fungi to act as biopesticides
(21.6%). A diversity of new and known compounds were shown to be secondary metabolites produced
by the endophytic fungi and most of these compounds were investigated for their potential as antimicrobial
and anticancer agents. Research was observed to have evolved from a focus on endophyte diversity
in the 1990s and early 2000s to exploring the possibility of using endophyte fungi as sources of
compounds with pharmaceutical and other commercial applications post 2005.
Conclusion: In Africa, whilst fungal endophytes remain largely an untapped reservoir of potentially useful
natural products, research on the fungal endophytes has also evolved in line with trends elsewhere.