They will report on the first pesticides to capitalize on this unique defensive strategy here today at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Developed with sustainable agriculture in mind, the new fungicides — called "paldoxins" — could still do the work of conventional pesticides, helping to protect corn, wheat and other crops. These crops increasingly are used not just for food, but to make biofuels. The new fungicides also could help fight the growing problem of resistance, in which plant pests shrug off fungicides, the researchers suggest.
Most fungicides today are made based on chemicals that can kill potentially beneficial organisms and have other adverse environmental effects. The new materials are more selective, stopping fungi that cause plant diseases without harming other organisms. They work in a unique way, disrupting a key chemical signalling pathway that the fungi use to breakdown a plant's normal defenses. As a result, the plants boost their natural defenses and overcome fungal attack without harming people and the environment, the researchers say.
"Conventional fungicides kill constantly," explains study leader Soledade Pedras, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. "Our products only attack the fungus when it's misbehaving or attacking the plant. And for that reason, they're much safer."
Researchers have known for years that many plants have a defense mechanism that involves production of natural chemicals, called phytoalexins, to kill disease-causing fungi. The fungus, however, fights back. It releases enzymes that detoxify, or destroy, the phytoalexin, leaving the plant vulnerable to the fungi's attack.
To take advantage of that punch-counterpunch strategy, Pedras and her colleagues proposed the development of new anti-fungal agents to block the fungi's destruction of phytoalexins. They termed these new agents paldoxins, short for phytoalexin detoxification inhibitors.
Pedras discovered those agents after screening broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens and other plants in the so-called "crucifer family." They discovered the most powerful phytoalexin in a flowering plant called camelina or "false flax." In laboratory tests, camelina phytoalexins blocked detoxifying enzymes produced by a wide variety of fungi.
"We found that many fungi couldn't degrade this chemical," says Pedras. "So that's what we used to design synthetic versions that were even stronger than the original."
The researchers now have developed six different synthetic versions of the paldoxins, which are essentially potent inhibitors of fungal enzymes.
The researchers have successfully tested the synthetic paldoxins in the lab on several crucifer plants, including rapeseed plants and mustard greens. Pedras' group plan field tests of their new fungicides on other important crop varieties. In the future, a similar strategy will be applied to grasses such as wheat, rye, and oat. These grassy plants tend to be more difficult to protect with fungicides than broccoli and related veggies, the researchers say.
If studies continue to show promise, the paldoxins could be marketed quickly, within a few years, Pedras says. The new fungicides could be applied like conventional pesticides.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan funded the study.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Biofuels > New green pesticides > conventional fungicides > crop plants > crucifer family > detoxifying enzymes > disease-causing fungi > fungal attack > green fungicides > paldoxins > pesticides > phytoalexin detoxification inhibitors > phytoalexins > plant diseases > plant pests
Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society
127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences