Natural Antimicrobial Agent Derived from Biomass
Fungal pathogens pose one of the greatest economic threats to agriculture. Every year fungal infections – such as root rot, smut and powdery mildew – destroy about 125 million tons of the top five food crops globally. One pest, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, is responsible for a disease called white mold and causes $250 million in annual damages in the U.S. alone.
Today, the majority of fungicides are synthetic or metal-containing, and therefore not compliant with USDA organic agriculture laws. The rise in pesticide-resistant strains and the risk to human health is driving the search for safe and effective alternatives.
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.
- Demonstrates strong antifungal activity
- Naturally derived
- Consistent with organic farming
- Adds value to the waste stream of biomass processing plants
- Potential new antifungal, antimicrobial compound for agriculture and pharmaceuticals