There are 30 lichen species and more than 200 endolichen fungi species associated with such mangroves
This is the first time that a research of this kind is being carried out in Sri Lanka
By Gayan SURIYAARACHCHI
The Chemistry Department of the Kelaniya University has found that Endolichenic fungi that grows in Lichen of the vegetation in the wet zone has astounding properties that could help destroy cancer cells
Lichen is a living organism found on tree trunks and rocks. The fungi that develop and grow freely on the favourable background created by the cordial co-ordination of an algae and lichen is known as Endolichenic fungus.
The researchers say they are also studying the antioxidant, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties of the substance. This research is being conducted under Senior Professor Sriyani Paranagama of the Chemistry Department of Kelaniya University.
Prof. Paranagama is also known to have discovered that endolichen fungi are capable of developing bio-active compounds which are rich with medicinal properties, during a research carried out jointly with Professor Lesley Gunathilaka of the University of Arizona.
This is the first time that a research of this kind is being carried out in Sri Lanka. The National Research Council provided the financial contribution for the research, Prof. Paranagama said.
Professor Sriyani Paranagama
"As another stage of this research, we started to identify various compounds that are created and to identify the endolichen fungi species found in the mangrove environment"
The process of extracting from endolichen fungus is a result of the modern research work discovered through a programme to produce new medicinal compounds. Almost all medicine we use has its origins in properties found in flora, algae or aquatic organisms. Vincristine medicine often prescribed for cancer patients are produced from a certain flower (mineemal). The method of extracting medicinal properties from plants started with the discovery of Penicillin. The research reveals that bio-active constituents can be produced in the endolichen fungus that lives independently within the lichen found in the trees of the wet zone. It has been proved that the constituents are available in endolichen fungus that has not been identified so far, anywhere else in the world.
“We started to cultivate endolichen fungus separately in our laboratory from lichen collected from the trees in Sinharaja, Haggala and Knuckles forests. We are trying to find out whether there is an anti-oxidant, cancer destruction quality in these constituents. We believe that we could develop and cultivate these properties or even develop them through synthesis process, by finding out constituents that could be used very successfully,” Prof. Paranagama said.
"We started to cultivate endolichen fungus separately in our laboratory from lichen collected from the trees in Sinharaja, Haggala and Knuckles forests "
“As another stage of this research, we started to identify various compounds that are created and to identify the endolichen fungi species found in the mangrove environment. We believe that there are unidentified constituents in such species in endolichen fungi that have adapted in the same way that the mangroves have, according to arid environments. Usually mangroves grow in environments with a high concentration of salt . So far, it has been identified that there are 30 lichen species and more than 200 endolichen fungi species associated with such mangroves.”
“Dr. (Mrs) Gothami Weerakoon, from the University of Chicago, USA has assisted the botanical identification of the lichen species that have been collected from this research. Dr. Renuka Attanayaka of the University of Kelaniya is meanwhile involved in identifying the endolichen fungus,” Prof. Paranagama said.
Courtesy Daily lankadeepa