In comparison with other natural sources like plants, highly diverse microorganisms are narrowly explored, especially with respect to their limitless potentials as repositories of exceptionally bioactive natural products. Of these organisms, fungi inhabiting tissues of plant in a noninvasive relationship (endophytic fungi) have proven undeniably useful and unmatchable as sources of potent bioactive molecules against several diseases such as cancer and related ailments. In general terms, endophytic fungi are highly prevalent organisms found in the tissue (intracellular or intercellular) of plants and at least for reasonable portion of their lives. It has been proven that virtually every plant, irrespective of habitat and climate, plays host to wide varieties of endophytes. Endophytic fungi produce metabolites produced by different biosynthetic pathways to that of the host plant, and this robustness equips them to synthesize unlimited structural entities and scaffolds of diverse classes. Interestingly too, the cohabitation/culture of these fungi with certain bacteria offers even stronger hopes for anticancer drug discovery. The endless need for potent drugs has necessitated the search of bioactive molecules from several sources, and endophytic fungi appear to be a recipe. This chapter is an attempt to present the current trend of research with these very promising organisms.
Part of the book: Natural Products and Cancer Drug Discovery