Medicinal plants and their endophytes are important resources for discovery of natural products. Several previous studies have found a positive correlation between total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and total phenolic content (TPC) of many medicinal plant extracts. However, no information is available on whether such a relationship also exists in their endophytic fungal metabolites. We investigated the relationship between TAC and TPC for 292 morphologically distinct endophytic fungi isolated from 29 traditional Chinese medicinal plants. The antioxidant capacities of the endophytic fungal cultures were significantly correlated with their total phenolic contents, suggesting that phenolics were also the major antioxidant constituents of the endophytes. Some of the endophytes were found to produce metabolites possessing strong antioxidant activities. Several bioactive constituents from the fungal cultures and host plant extracts were identified. This investigation reveals that the metabolites produced by a wide diversity of endophytic fungi in culture can be a potential source of novel natural antioxidants.
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Vol. 61 • No. 1