Optimizing production and evaluating biosynthesis in situ of a herbicidal compound, mevalocidin, from Coniolariella sp.

  • Vincent P. Sica
  • Mario Figueroa
  • Huzefa A. Raja
  • Tamam El-Elimat
  • Blaise A. Darveaux
  • Cedric J. PearceEmail author
  • Nicholas H. OberliesEmail author
Natural Products


Mevalocidin is a fungal secondary metabolite produced by Coniolariella sp. It is a unique phytotoxin that demonstrates broad spectrum post-emergent herbicidal properties. With limited options for weed control, the commercialization of a natural product pesticide would be beneficial to organic farming. In this study, two mevalocidin-producing fungal strains, coded MSX56446 and MSX92917, were explored under a variety of growth conditions, including time, temperature, and media. The concentration of mevalocidin was quantitatively measured via LC–MS to determine the optimal setting for each condition. Maximum production was achieved for each condition at 20 days, at 30 °C, with YESD + agar, and with a media containing 2.5 % dextrose. Furthermore, an advanced surface sampling technique was incorporated to gain a better understanding of the fungal culture’s natural ability to biosynthesize and distribute this herbicide into its environment. It was shown that both fungi actively exude mevalocidin into their environment via liquid droplet formations known as guttates.

Graphical abstract


Fungal secondary metabolites Herbicide Droplet-based liquid extraction Spatial distribution 



Internal transcribed spacer


Droplet liquid microjunction surface sampling probe



This research was supported in part by a Grant from the US Department of Agriculture (NIFA 2012-33610-19523). The authors thank T. N. Graf of UNCG for assistance in isolation method development and Drs. Vilmos Kertesz and Gary J. Van Berkel (Mass Spectrometry and Laser Spectroscopy Group, Chemical Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory) for inspiration and guidance with the droplet-LMJ-SSP.

Supplementary material

10295_2016_1782_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
Phylograms of ITS and 28S rDNA for the fungi utilized in this paper. A flowchart detailing the extraction process. The 1H NMR and MS data for both compounds. The chromatograms confirming the biosynthesis of both compounds. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at (DOCX 1161 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent P. Sica
    • 1
  • Mario Figueroa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Huzefa A. Raja
    • 1
  • Tamam El-Elimat
    • 1
  • Blaise A. Darveaux
    • 3
  • Cedric J. Pearce
    • 3
    Email author
  • Nicholas H. Oberlies
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.Facultad de QuímicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexicoMexico
  3. 3.Mycosynthetix, Inc.HillsboroughUSA

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