Control of Fungal Diseases

Cytochrome p450 fluorescing green

The Challenge

Every year fungal diseases across the world cost the agricultural industry billions in destroyed and damaged crops. Fungicides, like antifungal drugs for medicine, also become less effective as resistance amongst target fungi grows.

The aim here was to aid the agrochemical multinational company BASF in the development of fungicides which would stop the growth and/or kill the fungal disease in agricultural crops whilst not inhibiting processes within the plant.

The method

The research undertaken was focussed on investigating cytochrome P450 (a superfamily of enzymes found in bacteria, fungi, plants, protozoa, animals and more recently viruses).  One of these enzymes is the target of antifungal compounds for medicine and agriculture (cytochrome P45051) involved in sterol production. 

Overall the design and development of a unique set of molecular cytochrome P45051 protein tools from plant pathogens has enabled a specific strategic approach for testing novel potential fungicides by BASF.  This led to the discovery and development of Revysol®.

Colonies of Streptomyces producing a blue antibiotic

Colonies of Streptomyces producing blue antibiotic

The impact

  • Increased disease control, essential in managing fungicide resistance, increasing yields within 40 crops such as cereals, soy, corn, fruit and vegetables. Large impact for Global Food Security.
  • Commercial impact for BASF in excess of $1billion pa, being used across 60 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
  • Reduced off-target effects of fungicide use.
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