Agriculture : Pesticides & inoculants


Natural Antimicrobial Agent Derived from Biomass

UW–Madison researchers have identified an antimicrobial agent produced as a byproduct of biomass processing. The agent is a diferulate compound called poacic acid (and sometimes also called ‘8-5-DC’). It has been shown to target and destroy the cell walls of several species of fungus and yeast.

Enterotoxin-Deficient Bacillus Strains for Use as Biocontrol Agents

UW–Madison researchers have now created improved mutants of B. thuringiensis for use as bioinsecticides on food crops. In the modified strains, four distinct operons, each comprising three genes that encode unique enterotoxins that have been implicated in food poisoning, have been replaced with copies containing deletions, rendering the enterotoxins non-functional. The quadruple enterotoxin-deficient strains do not produce the enterotoxin products that are associated with human toxicity, yet perform as well as the wild-type B. thuringiensis strain.

Warfarin Promoter

Researchers at UW-Eau Claire and Marshfield Clinic have developed a new class of compounds that enhance the anticoagulant activity of warfarin when co-administered. When the compound is paired with warfarin, they quadruple the anticoagulant activity when compared to warfarin alone. Additionally, preliminary animal tests show the compounds are not toxic when administered alone.

Biodegradable, Biocompatible Tannin-Chitosan Composites for Therapeutic Applications

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new composite of tannin and chitosan.  The biodegradable and biocompatible composite can be formed into hydrogel films, 3-D foams, biogels, nanoparticles or liposome coatings for a variety of therapeutic applications.

This material combines the advantages of chitosan, which has blood-clotting and antimicrobial properties, with those of tannins, which have antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and wound healing properties.  As compared to chitosan alone, the composite has improved stability, higher drug loading capacity, better drug release properties, improved cell uptake, greater porosity, improved tensile strength and increased thermal stability.  In addition, this composite is non-cytotoxic in vitro.

Natural AESCP-2 Inhibitors as New Insecticides

UW-Madison researchers have discovered promising natural AESCP-2 inhibitors (SCPIs) that may provide effective anti-mosquito insecticides with minimal environmental impact. They screened a natural products library to identify compounds that inhibited AESCP-2. These compounds then were tested against the major mosquito species responsible for malaria.

The inhibitors may provide an effective means to control adult mosquito populations by killing mosquito larvae. In addition, they may provide a means to control Colorado potato beetle populations—tests showed that SCPIs are also potent larvicides for this pest.