Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.4, 1773-1783, 2020
Penicillin and cephalosporin biosyntheses are also regulated by reactive oxygen species
In an earlier work on lovastatin production by Aspergillus terreus, we found that reactive oxygen species (ROS) concentration increased to high levels precisely at the start of the production phase (idiophase) and that these levels were sustained during all idiophase. Moreover, it was shown that ROS regulate lovastatin biosynthesis. ROS regulation has also been reported for aflatoxins. It has been suggested that, due to their antioxidant activity, aflatoxins are regulated and synthesized like a second line of defense against oxidative stress. To study the possible ROS regulation of other industrially important secondary metabolites, we analyzed the relationship between ROS and penicillin biosynthesis by Penicillium chrysogenum and cephalosporin biosynthesis by Acremonium chrysogenum. Results revealed a similar ROS accumulation in idiophase in penicillin and cephalosporin fermentations. Moreover, when intracellular ROS concentrations were decreased by the addition of antioxidants to the cultures, penicillin and cephalosporin production were drastically reduced. When intracellular ROS were increased by the addition of exogenous ROS (H2O2) to the cultures, proportional increments in penicillin and cephalosporin biosyntheses were obtained. It was also shown that lovastatin, penicillin, and cephalosporin are not antioxidants. Taken together, our results provide evidence that ROS regulation is a general mechanism controlling secondary metabolism in fungi.