Research scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology in Jena, Germany recently discovered bacterial compounds that they have named "keanumycins," after actor Keanu Reeves, because of their ability to evade predatory amoeba and slay harmful enemies. Esquire explains:
Lead author Sebastian Götze described the keanumycins as creating "holes" in the surface of the pathogen, causing it to "bleed" to death. This lethal action is similar to the way Reeves dispatches his foes in the "John Wick" films.
When the researchers applied the keanumycins to a hydrangea plant covered in the fungus Botrytis cinerea, they found that the bacteria filled the fungus with holes, freeing the plant of the blight.
Smithsonian Magazine explains that keanumycins are particularly effective against a gray mold that affects hundreds of types of fruits and vegetables:
In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, lead author Götze and his colleagues describe keanumycins' strength against a common plant pest that causes a gray mold rot. Called Botrytis cinerea, it affects more than 200 types of fruits and vegetables, including strawberries and grapes, per the statement. The researchers used keanumycins to significantly clear this blight from hydrangea leaves.
Keanumycins don't just help plants fight off fungal diseases, though—they are also great news for humans. Esquire explains that "They also work against Candida albicans, a naturally occurring fungus in the human body that can cause infection when it overproduces."
These keanumycins could be a game changer, and play a role in the creation of new antifungals for humans and plants. Esquire calls this discovery a "big deal," given that "many fungi have become resistant to drugs and substances that have been used to kill them in the past." Fortune further explains:
The discovery could lead to the creation of new antifungals for both crops and people—a welcome development given the global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance, which includes antibiotic resistance, occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve over time, becoming less responsive to medicines, making infections increasingly difficult, or impossible, to treat.
And Smithsonian Magazine adds that, "The newly identified compounds could be an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to fungus-killing chemicals used in agriculture."