A few recent investigations have established that marine-derived fungi associated with sponges are an excellent source of novel bioactive metabolites with the potential to function as drugs or drug leads. Given the high species diversity and wide distribution of sponges, it is reasonable to expect that they harbour marine-derived fungi with the ability to produce diverse secondary metabolites. For a more complete realisation of their technological potential, a thorough knowledge of the different taxa of marine-derived fungi associated with sponges is essential. There is scarce information on the interplay between sponges and associated marine-derived fungi and between the marine-derived fungi and other sponge endosymbionts. Unravelling such interactions could be useful in recreating the sponge microcosm conditions in vitro for harvesting novel fungal metabolites. This is essential as many genes of fungal secondary metabolism are inactive in axenic cultures. This review addresses these issues by focusing on the isolation, identification, nature of association, secondary metabolites and potential interactions of marine-derived fungi of sponges and presents some future prospects regarding the bioprospecting of these fungi.
©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston