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Taxol-making fungus found.

Thirty years ago, scientists discovered a fungus that produced a complicated growth-stimulating compound also made by its host plant. So plant biologist Gary Strobel from Montana State University in Bozeman decided to look for a yew-tree fungus that might make the promising anticancer compound taxol.

Montana State organic chemist Andrea Stierle and her husband, Donald Stierle, collected bark from 25 Pacific yews found in 20 places in Montana. The researchers grew fungi from the bark and extracted and analyzed the compounds each fungus produced.

Of 200 organisms surveyed, one, which they named Taxomyces andreanae, makes taxol and a related molecule in small amounts, they report in the April 9 SCIENCE.

This fungus comes from the pinkish inner bark of a yew found in an old-growth cedar forest, says Strobel. Its taxol kills cancer cells just as the yew's taxol does, he adds. He is confident that genetic manipulation and culturing techniques can increase the yield significantly.

More important, the discovery may prompt more scientists to consider fungi in their search for useful compounds, he adds.
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Title Annotation:Taxomyces andreanne fungus grows on Pacific yew trees
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 10, 1993
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