Scientists from the USDA are looking at the venom of fire-ants, which may be able to hinder the growth of a crop pathogen known as Pythium ultimum.
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/08/2013 -- Chemical fungicides, delayed plantings, and crop rotation are among methods that are used to control the P. ultimum fungus, but now, USDA researchers are looking at how fire ant venom can be used as a natural fungicide to get rid of the fungus.
According to Jian Chen, an entomologist with the USDA’s Agricultural REsearch Service, the agency is investigating a potential application of fire ant venom to manage the soilborne pathogens like Pythium ultimum. So far, they are using sophisticated extraction techniques to obtain purified amounts of piperidine, the venom from the glands of both red and black imported fire ants.
In small trials, the researchers exposed the Pythium ultimum to the venom, and noticed that the growth and germination of the fungus had subsided at room temperatures. Further studies are needed to see if it will fail to germinate when exposed to the alkaloids at concentrations of 51.2 micrograms per milliliter.
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