- Scientists discovered a compound in Pseudomonas bacteria that can effectively kill certain fungi.
- The mushroom killer was named by German researchers after the actor Keanu Reeves.
- The study’s authors say the fungus could be used to effectively treat crops and humans.
Like John Wick, new compounds discovered by scientists are powerful killers. But instead of killing bad guys, they kill mushrooms.
Researchers at the Leibniz Institute in Germany found that certain bacteria that naturally contain compounds are effective at killing fungi that affect plants and humans. The scientists named them Keanumycins A, B and C – after actor Keanu Reeves.
The three keanumycins – lipopeptides found in bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas commonly found in soil and water – were isolated by scientists testing their lethal properties. They found that the compounds eliminated amoebas and fungi.
“The lipopeptides kill so efficiently that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles,” said the study’s lead author, Sebastian Götze, in a press release. The scientists published their findings in January in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The keanumycins were most effective at killing Botrytis cinerea – a fungus that produces gray mold. The fungus ruins crops like strawberries and grapes, and farmers typically use chemical fungicides to prevent growth.
The study’s authors are currently testing the theory that a fungicide containing keanumycins could kill fungi on crops, and offers a biodegradable option that leaves no chemicals in the soil or on crops.
The scientists also say it may help with another crisis — fungal infections in humans becoming less resistant to antifungal drugs. Keanumycins are effective in treating the human pathogenic fungus responsible for yeast infections and are not toxic to humans, the study authors note.
“We have an anti-infective crisis,” said Götze in the statement. “Many human pathogenic fungi are now resistant to antimycotics – also because they are used in large quantities in agriculture.”
So far in 2023, several significant scientific discoveries have been made that have been named after celebrities.
Biologists recently found a mystical brook frog in Ecuador and named it after fantasy author JRR Tolkien.
Another pair of biologists discovered five new snake species in Central and South America. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio named one of them — an orange-eyed, snail-eating snake that produces a “musky and sickening smell” — after his mother, Irmelin Indenbirken.