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Xerophilic fungal genus Wallemia: Bioactive inhabitants of marine solar salterns and salty food

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Author(s): Zajc Janja | Zalar Polona | Sepčić Kristina | Gunde-Cimerman Nina

Journal: Zbornik Matice Srpske za Prirodne Nauke
ISSN 0352-4906

Volume: 2011;
Issue: 120;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: fungi | Wallemia spp. | taxonomy | low water activity | xerophiles | halophiles | osmoadaptation | secondary metabolites

ABSTRACT
Wallemia is a genus of cosmopolitan xerophilic fungi, frequently involved in food spoilage of particularly sweet, salty, and dried food. Until recently, only a single species, Wallemia sebi, was recognized in the genus. When a large group of strains globally collected in salterns and other different ecological niches was analyzed on the level of physiological, morphological and molecular characteristics, a new basidiomycetous class, Wallemiomycetes, covering an order of Wallemiales was proposed and three Wallemia species were recognized: W. ichthyophaga, W. sebi and W. muriae. Wallemia ichthyophaga was recognized as the most halophilic eukaryote known, thus representing an appropriate eukaryotic model for in depth studies of adaptation to hypersaline conditions. Our preliminary studies indicated that all three Wallemia species synthesized a yet undescribed haemolytic compound under, surprisingly, low water activity conditions. Due to the taxonomic status w hich was unrevealed only recently, there were so far no reports on the production of any bioactive compounds by the three newly described species. The article aims to present the taxonomy, ecology, physiology and so far described molecular mechanisms of adaptations to life at low water activity, as well as bioactive potential of the genus Wallemia, a phylogenetically ancient taxon and a taxonomic maverick within Basidiomycota.

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Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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