Modulation of volatile organic compound formation in the Mycodiesel-producing endophyte Hypoxylon sp. CI-4


An endophytic Hypoxylon sp. (strain CI-4) producing a wide spectrum of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including 1,8-cineole, 1-methyl-1,4-cyclohexadiene and cyclohexane, 1,2,4-tris(methylene), was selected as a candidate for the modulation of VOC production. This was done in order to learn if the production of these and other VOCs can be affected by using agents that may modulate the epigenetics of the fungus. Many of the VOCs made by this organism are of interest because of their high energy densities and thus the potential they might have as Mycodiesel fuels. Strain CI-4 was exposed to the epigenetic modulators suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA, a histone deacetylase) and 5-azacytidine (AZA, a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor). After these treatments the organism displayed striking cultural changes, including variations in pigmentation, growth rates and odour, in addition to significant differences in the bioactivities of the VOCs. The resulting variants were designated CI4-B, CI4-AZA and CI4-SAHA. GC/MS analyses of the VOCs produced by the variants showed considerable variation, with the emergence of several compounds not previously observed in the wild-type, particularly an array of tentatively identified terpenes such as α-thujene, sabinene, γ-terpinene, α-terpinolene and β-selinene, in addition to several primary and secondary alkanes, alkenes, organic acids and derivatives of benzene. Proton transfer reaction mass spectroscopic analyses showed a marked increase in the ratio of ethanol (mass 47) to the total mass of all other ionizable VOCs, from ~0.6 in the untreated strain CI-4 to ~0.8 in CI-4 grown in the presence of AZA. Strain CI4-B was created by exposure of the fungus to 100 µM SAHA; upon removal of the epigenetic modulator from the culture medium, it did not revert to the wild-type phenotype. Results of this study have implications for understanding why there may be a wide range of VOCs found in various isolates of this fungus in nature.




Hassan, R., Strobel, G.A., Booth. E., Knighton, B., Floerchinger, C. and Sears, J. 2012. Modulation of Volatile Organic Compound Formation in the Mycodiesel producing endophyte- Hypoxylon sp CI-4. Microbiology 158: 465-473.
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