New biomolecules can benefit agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors

These molecules of plant origin may be of use to the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors.

Researchers from the Biochemistry and Biotechnology Research Group at the Universitat Jaume Ihave identified and obtained biomolecules of plant origin, which have been tested against plant pathogens and pathogens of clinical interest, with the aim of obtaining high-quality commercial products that can be applied in the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors.

In the agronomic sector, the work team aims to achieve products based on biomolecules, through eco-compatible techniques with agricultural production for the control of plant pathogens, through the induction of plant defenses, which could act as a vaccine against different diseases. At present, this is one of the most interesting lines of action both for the business world and for public institutions.

The disease control approaches used so far are based on the use of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment, wildlife and even people. However, new methods of pathogen control are currently being developed, based on the use of this type of natural compounds of plant origin, which act directly on the pathogen and enhance the innate resistance of plants.

In the pharmaceutical sector, one of the main current problems is the emergence of resistance to antibiotics by pathogens of clinical interest. The control of the diseases caused by these microorganisms is a major challenge for health administrations and pharmaceutical industries. New biomolecules could alleviate the problems caused by multi-resistant pathogens against antibiotics.

These new biomolecules have been experimentally validated in the laboratory and agronomic environments. The research group would be interested in developing and adapting thistechnology to specific applications through licensing agreements with companies committed to improving people and planthealth and welfare.

Biochemistry and biotechnology

The Biochemistry and Biotechnology Group was created in 1993. From its inception,it has been working on the development of alternative methods to the use of pesticides and chemicals through the use of new resistance-inducing compounds, as well as the study of the metabolism of nitrogen.

In the last twenty years, their work has focused on the development of inductor molecules that favour the adaptation of plants to biotic or abiotic stress. They obtained patent P200501535 in 2005 in collaboration with the University of Valencia.

The research group is also searching for new mechanisms for resistance induction in plants, such as the application of 1-methyl tryptophan and nitrogen fertilisation, which are showing very good results in terms of resistance induction against biotic stress.

One of the most promising fields to find new methods to improve this resistance is the study of plant microbiome. In this sense, its objective is to find new fungal endophytes compatible with commercial crops that may improve plant performance in fields.

On the other hand, the research group collaborates with the Valencian Institute of Agrarian Research (IVIA) and the University of Valencia with the aim of characterizing and enhancing plant response against pathogens such asXylella fastidiosaandRalstonia solanacearum.

Another of their research lines is the development and validation of antimicrobial treatments using natural compounds from plant extracts for their application against pathogens of clinical and agronomic interest, in order to test and validate their antitumor effect in human cells.

Source:
Journal reference:

Scalschi, L., et al. (2020) 1-Methyltryptophan Modifies Apoplast Content in Tomato Plants Improving Resistance Against Pseudomonas syringae. Frontiers in Microbiology. doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02056.

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