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Scientists Found a New Type of Pesticide that Kills Pathogens Attacking Rice

A group of researchers from China, Austria, and Japan outline a promising solution in a study published in the journal Fundamental Research, which uses a compound that has no harmful effects on the environment or humans who consume the rice.

Shivam Dwivedi
Brown Leaf Spots in Rice
Brown Leaf Spots in Rice

Rice is one of the most important staple foods on the planet, accounting for one-fifth of all calories consumed. Pathogens—disease-causing organisms—have wreaked havoc on the major rice-growing areas.

To date, chemical pesticides have been used to combat the problem, which typically targets plant-pathogenic fungi. However, because none of these treatments are completely effective, and many are considered environmentally unfriendly, researchers have been looking for alternatives.

A group of researchers from China, Austria, and Japan outline a promising solution in a study published in the journal Fundamental Research, which uses a compound that has no harmful effects on the environment or humans who consume the rice.

"This work is based on an interesting phenomenon that we observed in certain rice fields," says Haruna Matsumoto, one of the study's authors. “The bacteria-associated molecules required for a bacterium to cause disease showed significant differences in rice plants grown in different and geographically distant locations.”

“We wanted to know what the unidentified factor affecting the pathogen's virulence was, and if it had anything to do with the host plant. We discovered 5-Amino-1,3,4-thiadiazole-2-thiol, a plant metabolization product of thiazole-class agrochemicals, and confirmed that it reduces a pathogen's ability to harm without killing or otherwise affecting the pathogen, thanks to metabolic profiling."

Tomislav Cernava, the study's co-corresponding author, claims that "This anti-virulence effect triggered by the plant-converted agrochemical is a novel discovery with significant implications for plant defense systems in the fight against bacterial pathogens.”

“It's especially important when fighting pathogens with small-molecule virulence factors because plants can't usually respond to them when they're attacked." "We believe similar mechanisms have the potential to combat pathogens in other types of crops," he continues.

Mengcen Wang, the study's lead researcher, hopes that the team's findings will inspire more scientists to investigate the complexities of interactions between plants, microbes, and the environment. "This would lay the groundwork for more long-term approaches to securing global rice production."

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