Biotech Updates

Scientists Identify Compound that Kills Mycotoxin-Producing Pathogen

June 26, 2009

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have identified a compound that can inhibit the growth of the plant pathogen Fusarium verticillioides. F. verticillioides is an important cause of corn seedling blight and root, stalk and ear rot. The fungus also produces fumonisin mycotoxins, particularly fumonisin B1, which are toxic to livestock and poultry. Ingestion of F. verticillioides-infected corn is linked with high incidence of esophageal and liver cancers in humans.

The research team, headed by Charles Bacon, identified the compound from a strain Bacillus mojavensis, a plant residing bacterium. The bacterium produces Leu7-surfactin which is effective in controlling Fusarium even at very low concentration (20 micrograms per liter of liquid). Surfactin has a detergent-like activity that dissolves the lipid membranes inside the fungus. It can also be used in textile manufacture and environmental remediation.

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