One major problem faced by farmers is the need to spray crops repeatedly with pesticides because the chemicals get washed off by rain. Researchers from RWTH Aachen University in Germany may have created an alternative; a sticky protein molecule that will adhere to crops, even when it rains. The molecule is made of two parts, one that sticks to the leaves of crops and acts as an anchor, and the other clings to this and ruptures the outer membrane of fungal spores which means they can not infect the crops. Laboratory based tests using the molecule on soybeans showed a reduction in symptoms of soybean rust, a fungus responsible for one of the world’s worst agricultural diseases. Of course, additional testing will be required before this is used commercially, but it provides a new avenue for investigation in the constant battle against pests and pathogens in farming.
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