Bioinformatics approach used to uncover the weed killer could also be used to find new drugs for medications
A garden can be a competitive environment. Plants and unseen microorganisms in the soil all need precious space to grow. And to gain that space, a microbe might produce and use chemicals that kill its plant competitors. But the microbe also needs immunity from its own poisons.
By looking for that protective shield in microorganisms, specifically the genes that can make it, a team of UCLA engineers and scientists discovered a new and potentially highly effective type of weed killer. This finding could lead to the first new class of commercial herbicides in more than 30 years, an important outcome as weeds continue to develop resistance to current herbicide regimens.
Using a technique that combines data science and genomics, the team found the new herbicide by searching the genes of thousands of fungi for one that might provide immunity against fungal poisons. This approach is known as “resistance gene-directed genome mining.”
The study, which was published in Nature, also points to the potential for this genomics-driven approach to be used in medicine, with applications ranging from new antibiotics to advanced cancer-fighting drugs.
“Microorganisms are very smart at protecting themselves from the potent molecules they make to kill their enemies,” said Yi Tang, the study’s co-principal investigator and a UCLA professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and of chemistry and biochemistry. “The presence of these resistance genes provides a window into the functions of the molecules, and can allow us to discover these molecules and apply them to diverse applications in human health and agriculture.”
For example, if a resistance gene that protects a microorganism from an anti-bacterial product is found, there’s a possibility that the microorganism also has genes to produce that same anti-bacterial compound. That discovery could potentially lead to new antibacterial medicines.
The new herbicide acts by inhibiting the function of an enzyme that is necessary for plants’ survival. The enzyme is a key catalyst in an important metabolic pathway that makes essential amino acids. When this pathway is disrupted, the plants die.
This pathway is not present in mammals, including humans, which is why it has been a common target in herbicide research and development. The new herbicide works on a different part of the pathway than current herbicides. A commercial product that uses it would require more research and regulatory approval.
“An exciting aspect of the work is that we not only discovered a new herbicide, but also its exact target in the plant, opening the possibility of modifying crops to be resistant to a commercial product based on this herbicide,” said study co-principal investigator Steven Jacobsen, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the UCLA College and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “We are looking to work with large agrochemical companies to develop this promising lead further.”
To confirm the efficacy of the new herbicide, the UCLA team tested the fungus-produced product on a common plant used in lab studies called Arabidopsis. In experiments, the product killed the plants after they were sprayed with it. The researchers also implanted the resistance gene from the fungus into Arabidopsis genomes. The plants that had the resistance gene implanted in them were immune to the herbicide.
“The emergence of herbicide-resistance weeds is thwarting every herbicide class in use; in fact, there has not been a new type commercialized within the last 30 years,” said Yan Yan, a UCLA chemical engineering graduate student who was a lead author of the paper. “We think this new, powerful herbicide — combined with crops that are immune to it — will complement urgent efforts in overcoming weed resistance.”
The Latest on: Weed resistance
via Google News
The Latest on: Weed resistance
- Glyphosate resistance in junglerice confirmed on September 18, 2018 at 12:53 pm
There has been a lot of publicity in recent years about growers battling glyphosate-resistant pigweed in soybean and cotton crops. But pigweed isn't the only weed resistant to glyphosate. New research ... […]
- Researchers confirm glyphosate resistance in junglerice on September 18, 2018 at 9:03 am
There has been a lot of publicity in recent years about growers battling glyphosate-resistant pigweed in soybean and cotton crops. But pigweed isn't the only weed resistant to glyphosate. […]
- PREC studying ways to control relatively new weed on September 15, 2018 at 11:00 pm
“Generally, weeds that are able to survive diverse conditions tend to be the weeds that are also quickest to become resistant to different herbicides,” Lawrence said. “The biggest trait that Palmer ha... […]
- Workshop focus on glyphosate resistance on September 13, 2018 at 4:04 pm
Mr Storrie said herbicide resistance levels in weeds would vary from paddock to paddock and testing of weeds was essential for growers to determine which herbicides worked effectively on different par... […]
- Wide and sturdy blade ploughs control weeds on September 12, 2018 at 5:03 pm
... built some rather wide and sturdy blade ploughs to provide complete weed control on the tough weeds and maybe the herbicide-resistant weeds we are all dealing with on an increasing basis in many a... […]
- Watch This Canadian Weed Worker Fight Off Thieves With a Bong on September 11, 2018 at 4:23 am
That changes today as I would like to submit this weed clerk who fought off three robbers with a ... Police say that three men entered the store and were met with “great resistance” by the “clerk who ... […]
- Innovation Gives Fourth Generation a Leg Up on Weeds on September 6, 2018 at 10:11 pm
And for the Roths, one need was finding an innovative solution that would combat resistant weeds and end the misery of waterhemp, which was robbing them of precious yield, particularly in their soybea... […]
- Protect corn yields with a zero tolerance approach to weed control on September 6, 2018 at 6:28 am
"As more seeds are added to the weed seed bank, weed control will become increasingly difficult. Additionally, it is vital to eliminate resistant weeds like Palmer amaranth and waterhemp in fields to ... […]
- California's Illegal Weed Industry Is Doing Better Than Ever on September 5, 2018 at 10:59 pm
first got into the weed game. He was 18 years old and spent much of his life ... they’re still operating in the black market,” he said. But industry veterans’ resistance to legalization is about more ... […]
via Bing News