Production of the organic herbicide Mevalocidin by fungi
Fungi are microorganisms which are found throughout the world and are responsible for many natural processes including the decomposition of plant material and subsequent release of carbon, the preparation of food and beverages, as the source of pharmaceuticals, as well as the cause of a variety of diseases. It is estimated there are 1.5 million species of fungi in the world and the largest organism alive in the world is a fungus colony. Fungi have the ability to make compounds (metabolites) which affect other organisms. A typical example is the antibiotic penicillin. Fungi also produce metabolites that affect weeds (herbicides) and insects (insecticides). Although such herbicides have been reported in the literature useful leads for wide scale use are very rare. Also a natural compound can be evaluated for use in organic farming where there are currently few/no herbicides available. Mevalocidin, the target of this proposal is such an herbicide. The two fungi which have been shown to produce mevalocidin are unique to the Mycosynthetix collection (although they have been deposited in the American Type Culture Collection). By growing these fungi herbicidal activity caused by mevalocidin is produced and this can be detected by it's effect on test plants. Mevalocidin has been subsequently purified and tested against a variety of plants and shows an interesting profile of activity. The yield of mevalocidin production is however low, which limits it's use for developing it as a commercial herbicide, and this project attempts to address this problem. After developing a method of accurately measuring mevalocidin, a variety of traditional approaches will be used to improve the yield. Our goal is to be able to make 1 gram per liter of growth medium - at this point we will have a viable product to be used as a new. natural and organic herbicide.
Small Business Information at Submission:
4905 PINE CONE DR Durham, NC 27707-5258
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