Researchers from the United States have presented a new antifungal agent that does not lead to the emergence of resistant pathogens. At the same time, the substance does not leave toxic waste in the soil.
A new study by scientists from the University of California suggests that scientists have taken an important step towards creating more environmentally friendly fungicides that protect food crops. The researchers knew that cells produce tiny structures called extracellular vesicles. But their key role in communication between invading microorganisms and their hosts has only recently been discovered.
Geneticist Hayling Jin and her team found that plants use these vesicles to launch RNA molecules on fungi, suppressing genes that make them dangerous.
“These vesicles carry small RNAs between cells like tiny Trojan horses with weapons hidden inside. They can drown out the expression of pathogenic fungal genes, ”the researchers noted.
The use of extracellular vesicles and small RNAs has several advantages over conventional fungicides. They are more sustainable because they are similar to natural products. However, they decompose and do not leave toxic residues in the soil. In addition, the scientists explained that this method of fighting fungi does not generate drug-resistant pathogenic microorganisms.
When creating these fungicides, scientists found it difficult to figure out how to load small RNAs into vesicles. The lab has identified several proteins that serve as a binding agent, helping to select and load small RNAs into the vesicles.