Attract Group


Terpenoids from fungi

Initial situation and project objective

Terpenes or their derivatives are found in all organisms. Their range of use is correspondingly wide and includes applications in food chemistry as aroma (linalool) and colorant (carotenes), in the pharmaceutical industry, e.g. to combat the malaria pathogen (artemisinin), and as bee attractants in the agricultural industry (citral and geraniol). A so far neglected bioresource of terpenes and terpenoids are fungi of the section Basidiomycota (stander fungi), to which almost all edible mushrooms belong. Until now, the search for new terpenoid compounds has focused almost exclusively on plants. In this context, edible mushrooms appear to be of particular interest, since they have been consumed for thousands of years in Far Eastern culture, partly because of their taste, but also because of their health-promoting effects. The Attract Group's aim is to exploit the secondary metabolites of this bioresource and make them usable for industrial applications.

Solution and customer benefits

In this context, in the Attract group "Terpenoids from fungi", stand fungi of the IME-BR strain collection (formerly Sanofi strain collection) are cultivated in different systems. Thus, the production of terpenoid compounds is induced. The formed compounds are subsequently tested for their sensory, antiviral and antimicrobial activity in order to use them, for example, as flavors in the food industry, as attractants or repellents in the agricultural industry or in pharmaceuticals.

Project profile

PROJECT TITLE Terpenoids from fungi
DURATION 05/2021-04/2026
FUNDING PROGRAM Fraunhofer Attract
FUNDING VOLUME A total of € 1.3 million, of which approx. 50% is funded by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and 50% by the institute's own funds.
PROJECT LEADER Prof. Dr. Martin Rühl
  • Discovery of new terpenoids
  • Evaluation of potential application areas
  • Production of interesting compounds as samples for the industry

Poetische Kurzfassung der Forschung 

In the realm of fungi, secrets unfold,
terpenoids dance, their stories untold.
Basidiomycota, a rich terpenoid source,
in the Fraunhofer’s embrace, a genetic force.
Industrial relevance, in properties profound,
antimicrobial whispers, in molecules found.
Aroma in the air, an attractant’s call,
nature’s poetry, in a mycelium hall.
Searching through genomes, a coded scroll,
expressing and editing, biosynthetic pathways to control.
In labs we explore, where science meets the wild,
Coprinopsis cinerea, a production host to be styled.


Sandra Breuer (Doktorandin)


Prof. Dr. Martin Rühl

Deputy Head of Department Food & Feed Improvement Agent

Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME
Ohlebergsweg 12
35392 Gießen

+49 641 972-19278