Fungicide named after Keanu Reeves could be used on yeast infections

Keanu Reeves, left. A common mushroom, right?
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP // Getty Images

  • Scientists discovered a compound in pseudomonas bacteria that can effectively kill certain fungi.
  • The mushroom killer was named after the actor Keanu Reeves by German researchers.
  • The study’s authors say the fungus could be used to effectively treat both crops and humans.

Like John Wick, new compounds discovered by scientists are effective killers. But instead of killing bad guys, they kill mushrooms.

Researchers at the Leibniz Institute in Germany found that certain bacteria naturally contained compounds that were effective in killing fungi that affect plants and humans. The researchers named them keanumycins A, B and C – after the actor Keanu Reeves.

The three keanumycins – lipopeptides in bacteria of the Pseudomonas genus commonly found in soil and water – were isolated by scientists who tested their lethal properties. They found that the compounds got rid of amoebas and fungi.

“The lipopeptides kill so effectively that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he is also extremely deadly in his roles,” said the study’s lead author Sebastian Götze in a press release. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in January.

The keanumycins were most effective in killing Botrytis cinerea – a fungus that produces gray rot. The fungus destroys crops such as strawberries and grapes, and farmers usually use chemical fungicides to prevent it from growing.

The authors of the study are currently testing the theory that a fungicide containing keanumycins can kill fungi on crops and provide a biodegradable option that leaves no chemicals in the soil or on fruit.

The researchers also say it could help with another crisis — human fungal infections that are becoming less resistant to anti-fungal treatments. 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 a crisis with anti-infectives,” Götze said in the announcement. “Many human pathogenic fungi are now resistant to antifungal drugs – partly because they are used in large quantities in agricultural fields.”

So far, 2023 has seen several significant scientific discoveries named after celebrities.

Recently, biologists in Ecuador found a mysterious power frog and named it after fantasy author JRR Tolkien.

Another pair of biologists discovered five new species of snakes in Central and South America. The actor Leonardo DiCaprio named one of them – an orange-eyed, snail-eating snake that produces a “musky and distasteful smell” – after his mother, Irmelin Indenbirken.

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