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Taking ionic liquids to the next level at ITQB

When the fungal opinion on green chemistry matters
Taking ionic liquids to the next level at ITQB

Penicillium spp.

Oeiras, 13.04.09

Ionic liquids have an outstanding ability to dissolve materials. Classified as “green” chemicals, they constitute a promising alternative to traditional, volatile organic solvents. Additionally, they offer unexpected opportunities within the life sciences. In a work recently published in Green Chemistry, filamentous fungi are used for the first time to screen the toxicity of sixteen different ionic liquids. Since ionic liquids alter the fungal metabolism, this screening method is also a tool for discovering novel biological compounds.

The reported paper entitled “Exploring fungal activity in the presence of ionic liquids” is a good example of the interdisciplinary nature of ITQB research. Expertise from three different research groups at ITQB - Applied and Environmental Mycology, Molecular Thermodynamics, and Systems Biodynamics – and from The Queen’s University Ionic Liquids Laboratory (UK) come together in this work.

Fungal growth and corresponding metabolic footprints (assessed by mass spectrometry) were determined for all possible combinations between sixteen different ionic liquids and ten species of Penicillium. Since ionic liquids are basically liquid salts, common, inorganic salts were used for osmotic stress control.

Growth was observed in 80% of the cases. There is an apparent relationship between the phylogenetic origin of fungal species and their specific response to the presence of ionic liquids. Furthermore, ionic liquids always cause a modification of the fungal metabolism and some even seem to induce the expression of a distinct set of fungal extracellular proteins. Considering that filamentous fungi produce biologically active secondary metabolites, the test system described in this paper is a highly promising concept; an ionic liquid based bio-tool for designing targeted end products.


Green Chem., 2009, DOI: 10.1039/b823225c

Exploring fungal activity in the presence of ionic liquids

M. Petkovic, J. Ferguson, A. Bohn, J. Trindade, I. Martins, M. B. Carvalho, M. C. Leitão, C. Rodrigues, H. Garcia, R. Ferreira, K. R. Seddon, L. P. N. Rebelo and C. Silva Pereira

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