German researchers discover natural herbicide derived from cyanobacteria

February 4, 2019 |

In Germany, researchers at the University of Tübingen have discovered a natural substance that could compete with the controversial herbicide glyphosate: a newly discovered sugar molecule synthesized from cyanobacteria that inhibits the growth of various microorganisms and plants but is harmless to humans and animals. It was published in the journal Nature Communications on Friday.

Chemists and microbiologists at the University of Tübingen discovered an unusual antimetabolite with a simple chemical structure: a sugar molecule with the scientific name 7-deoxy-sedoheptulose (7dSh). Unlike ordinary carbohydrates, which usually serve as an energy source for growth, this substance inhibits the growth of plants and microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeasts. The sugar molecule blocks a key enzyme of the shikimate pathway, a metabolic pathway that occurs only in microorganisms and plants. For this reason, the scientists classify the substance as harmless for humans and animals, and have already demonstrated this in initial studies.

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