(TND) — Scientists have found a new substance that appears to be so deadly to fungi that they’ve named it in honor of action star Keanu Reeves.
"The lipopeptides kill so efficiently that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles," study co-author Sebastian Götze said in an article from Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology.
And the substance named after the “John Wick” star is environmentally friendly, the researchers say.
“Keanumycins,” as they’re called, are biodegradable and leave no permanent residues in the soil, according to researchers.
This new active ingredient in bacteria of the genus pseudomonas was shown to be effective against gray mold rot on hydrangea leaves, the institute says.
And this could be a valuable new tool against fungi that have grown resistant to antifungals that are used in large quantities in agricultural fields, the researchers say.
The findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
“This study documents another exciting means by which microbes have evolved to compete with and fight other organisms,” Dr. Matt Nelsen, a researcher from Chicago’s Field Museum, told CNN. “Previous efforts have sought to exploit such natural products for human use to combat animal and plant pathogens. However, over time, many pathogenic organisms — including fungi — have evolved resistance to the chemicals we use to battle them. Consequently, we need to find a new way to ‘outsmart’ or ‘one-up’ them.”
Fungal diseases can cause immense harvest losses, and more than 200 different types of fruit and vegetables are affected, according to the institute.
And there might even be applications to help people.
"In addition, we tested the isolated substance against various fungi that infect humans,” Götze said. “We found that it strongly inhibits the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans, among others.”
The natural product is not highly toxic for human cells and is already effective against fungi in very low concentrations, according to the institute.
Keanumycin, they say, is a good candidate for the pharmaceutical development of new antifungals.