A molecule so deadly that scientists named it after Keane Reeves
Researchers in Germany have discovered a new type of chemical that is deadly to fungi and named it “keanumycins” after Keanu Reeves and from the Greek word “mýkēs” meaning mushroom. He does to mushrooms what Wick does to dog abusers. The particles come from a bacterium called Pseudomonas and have been found to be effective against both plant pest and human pathogenic fungi. With the rise of fungicide-resistant fungi, scientists urgently need new methods to combat them.
Ringworm has recently become a topic of interest, especially thanks to the popular HBO series The Last of Us, which depicts a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a pandemic of mushrooms taking over its victims.
The discovery of keanumykyn could be a breakthrough in the fight against fungal infections. These compounds were first identified when scientists were studying the effectiveness of Pseudomonas bacteria against predatory amoebas. They found the bacterium to be toxic to the amoebas that feed on the bacteria, and wanted to investigate its potential effectiveness against fungi that have a similar cell structure to amoebas.
In preliminary tests, keanumykynes A, B and C were found to be effective against Botrytis cinerea, a plant pest that causes gray mold on fruits and vegetables. Staphylococcus gray is one of the mushrooms that cause the greatest losses in the economy. Keanumykyns are biodegradable and can be an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides. Further tests have also shown that the keanumykyns are effective against Candida albicans, a common yeast in our digestive system, which can, however, cause serious fungal infections (candidiasis), for example in people treated with long-term antibiotics. One advantage of keanumykins is that they are not particularly harmful or toxic to human cells. This makes them a promising candidate for the development of new antifungal drugs.
According to According to study co-author Sebastian Götze, a researcher at Germany’s Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie Hans-Knöll-Institut, Keanumykyns “kill so effectively that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he too is extremely lethal in his roles.” He also noted that there is a crisis in fungicides and that many pathogenic fungi are now resistant to antifungals, partly because they are used in large quantities in agriculture around the world.
Keanumykin’s potential to treat fungal infections is an exciting development in the field of microbiology. The aim of further research will be to understand how widespread keanumykyns are and to see how many other species of Pseudomonas bacteria can produce these compounds. The study was left published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and scientists will continue to study the keanumykynes to fully understand their potential.