Toward a plant-derived fungicide

March 10, 2015

In joint research with colleagues from the University of Tokyo, University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota, CSRS researchers discovered a lignocellulose hydrolysis product that strongly inhibits the growth of fungi and named it poacic acid. To find out how poacic acid acts on cells, the research group treated the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae with poacic acid and carried out chemical genomic and morphological analysis. From their results, the researchers found that poacic acid acts on a cell wall biosynthesis pathway, and directly binds glucan which is a major cell wall component.

Notably, poacic acid proved effective against several widespread fungal crop pathogens: Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (white mold in a wide range of plants), Alternaria solani (early blight in potatoes and tomatoes) and Phytophthora sojae (root and stem rot in soybeans).

Because poacic acid is naturally derived from plants, it has the potential to become a sustainable, biodegradable, and low-impact organic pesticide. It is also an example of a new application for woody biomass as an organic pesticide source and an environment-friendly alternative to pesticides derived from fossil fuels.


Original article
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.1410400112
J. Piotrowski, H. Okada, F. Lu, S. Li, L. Hinchman, A. Ranjan, D. Smith, A. Higbee, A. Ulbrich, J. Coon, R. Deshpande, Y. Bukhman, S. McIlwain, I. Ong, C. Myers, C. Boone, R. Landick, J. Ralph, M. Kabbage, Y. Ohya,
"The plant derived, antifungal agent poacic acid targets β-1,3-glucan".

Charles M. Boone; Team Leader
Sheena Claire Leoncio Li; Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher
Molecular Ligand Target Research Team