The Secret Cure To Crop Diseases And Hospital Bugs May Be Found In Simple Potatoes


People often turn to healthy foods as a way to promote personal health. Found in the list of to-eat would be the usual fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to treating superbugs that come from hospitals and addressing crop diseases, a simple potato might be the perfect cure.

People traditionally view potatoes as something that doesn’t bring too many nutrients. Its main role is to make meals more interesting. These are often made into mashed potatoes or French fries. What they don’t realize is the myriad of benefits that come with this botanical vegetable.

The potato may be a humble crop, but what people don’t realize is that it’s packed with a natural antibiotic that has the ability to destroy harmful bacteria. Whe formed into an antibiotic, this could be the very key to beating hospital superbugs in the near future. The findings were stated in a research made by a multinational team from Europe.

As for the compound itself, it is called solanimycin. This has the ability to fight a host of fungi that create destruction in crops. The havoc it wreaks could finally be stopped and it is their hope that they can look further into their findings. In the recent experiments made, the compound was able to kill Candida albicans, which can bring about possibly-dangerous and even deadly infections, such as thrush for women.

The traditional therapeutic antibiotic compounds found in the market now often come from soil microbes. As for the solanimycin findings they have made, these show that plant-based microorganisms should be considered more.

The research team behind it has made such discovery and they see this as a hopeful sign that plant pathogens could finally be turned into compounds that may be utilized for a variety of ways such as a weapon to fight plant fungi in crops that have come to be since these have become resistant to the usual treatments. Moreover, the compound could also be used as a fight to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance found in people.

“We have to open to the exploration of everything that’s out there to find new antibiotics,” said Microbiologist Rita Monson, Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. She co-led the study as well.

This week in mBiothe team reported the discovery of the compound that they first isolated from a pathogenic bacterium that is able to infect potatoes. This discovery made also seemed to be produced by a wide spectrum of related plant pathogenic bacteria.

The pathogenic potato bacterium is called Dickeya solani and this can produce solanimycin, a compound that they first identified more than 15 years ago. This means that the team of researchers at Cambridge have been looking into its potential as an antibiotic for around 10 years now.

“These strains emerged rapidly, and now they are widely distributed,” said the paper’s co-author, molecular microbiologist Miguel Matilla, Ph.D. He is from the Spanish Research Council’s Estación Experimental del Zaidín, in Granada.

It must be noted that solanimycin isn’t the first antibiotic that they discovered from the microbe. In work from previous years, researchers found that D. solani is able to produce an antibiotic called oocydin A. The said antibiotic acts extremely active when it comes to fighting several fungal plant pathogens.

Those previous discoveries as well as the analysis of the genome of the bacterium pointed to the fact that it might synthesize to more antibiotics that have antifungal potential. That hint that they thought of came to be correct. Matilla, Monson, molecular microbiologist George Salmond, saw that when they silenced the genes that were responsible for the production of oocydin A, the bacterium still showed antifungal activity.

That observation made brought them to identify solanimycin and the identification of the gene clusters that were in charge of the proteins that create the important compound. The bacterium makes use of the compound meagerly. It just acts enough to produce some as a response to cell density. An acidic pH environment, like what is found inside a potato also has the ability to activate the solanimycin gene cluster. Monson explained it further and said that it almost looks like a clever protective mechanism.

“It’s an antifungal that we believe will work by killing fungal competitors, and the bacteria benefit so much from this,” said Monson. “But you don’t turn it on unless you’re in a potato.”

“Our future steps are focused on trying to use this antibiotic antifungal for plant protection,” Matilla added.

Monson said the researchers have also started their collaboration with chemists because they want to know more about the molecular structure of solanimycin and get a deeper understanding on how it works.

She and Matilla have hopes for the future especially when it comes to further testing of the compound with the use of plant and animal models. They will also shift their immediate focus on trying to use this antibiotic antifungal to be able to protect the plants and crops worldwide.


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