Vaccines "cure" plant diseases
“Relieving" the attack of microorganisms which produce diseases such as the black sigatoka in banana plants or anthracnosis in beans is the goal of the “remedy" created by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) in Medellín researchers.Medellín, 20 de octubre de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
Soy bean crops were analyzed during the research. Photo: Taken from www.panoramaagrario.wtadpd3a.netdna-cdn.com
Diego Durango Director of the UNal School of Chemistry along with the Universidad de Antioquia developed synthetic vaccines to minimize plant diseases and reduce the negative consequences of frequent fungicide use.
The researchers established a chemical analysis protocol for rapid detection of resistant varieties, based on plant produced defense mechanisms known as phytoalexins.
These substances of interest in the research project have low molecular weight and high antimicrobial activity. The production of phytoalexins is related to the resistance plants may have to pathogenic microorganisms.
“A plant which produces high amounts of phytoalexins has better disease resistance perspectives,” said Durango.
The novel method to produce synthetic phytoalexins in approximately one month with respect to traditional methods which consist in hybridizing different plant varieties and then in the field testing stage observe if the diseases develops. These processes can last several years, time in which microorganisms evolve and develop new strategies for colonizing plant life.
Additionally UNal-Medellín has developed “alarm” substances for plants which act through similar mechanisms as vaccines which make plants prepare producing defensive substances.
Therefore if a microorganism begins an infection process it will encounter high levels of phytoalexins and pathogen development is inhibited,” said Durango.
For the research they analyzed ten varieties of beans, as well as soybean, plantain and banana crops. They sprayed plants with the vaccines and after certain time after germination they processed and prepared samples for chemical analyses.
The non-biocidal natured vaccine does not look to replace traditional fungicides but to reduce their frequency of use as excessive use can have negative consequences.
“When the farmer sees that the disease persists, they tend to increase the dosage of fungicides and this ends up developing into a public health issue because foods become tainted with chemicals,” said Durango.
This situation affects Colombia in general because it is an agricultural based country. Therefore the vaccine is a contribution to the solution of this issue which has repercussions on the environment and human health.
Professor Durango and other Universidad de Antioquia researchers hope the research project will help them discover and patent formulations and carry out applications in important crops in Colombia.
This discovery opens other alternatives such as using phytoalexins for their direct antibiotic potential to produce new fungicides and prepare more active chemical variant byproducts.(Por: Fin/KAGG/DMH