Science

Fly fat extract eradicates crop-killing bacteria

Fly fat extract eradicates cro...
Fat-filled larvae of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens
Fat-filled larvae of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens
View 2 Images
Principal investigator Elena Marusich and doctoral student Heakal Mohamed, in the MIPT Laboratory for the Development of Innovative Drugs and Agricultural Biotechnology
1/2
Principal investigator Elena Marusich and doctoral student Heakal Mohamed, in the MIPT Laboratory for the Development of Innovative Drugs and Agricultural Biotechnology
Fat-filled larvae of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens
2/2
Fat-filled larvae of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

Just like us, crop plants are subject to bacterial infections. And while antibiotics are often used to kill those microbes, compounds extracted from fly larva fat may prove to be a more eco-friendly alternative.

Not only are antibiotic pesticides expensive, but their introduction into the environment leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Inspired by previous studies, scientists at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) looked to the larvae of the black soldier fly as a substitute. The fat- and protein-rich larvae are readily available in large quantities, as they're raised commercially as feedstock for fish and other livestock.

The researchers started by harvesting fat from the larvae, by squeezing them under a press. An organic solvent made up of water, methanol, and hydrochloric acid was then used to extract key fatty acids from that fat.

Principal investigator Elena Marusich and doctoral student Heakal Mohamed, in the MIPT Laboratory for the Development of Innovative Drugs and Agricultural Biotechnology
Principal investigator Elena Marusich and doctoral student Heakal Mohamed, in the MIPT Laboratory for the Development of Innovative Drugs and Agricultural Biotechnology

"The resulting extract – called AWME [acidified water-methanol extract] – has antimicrobial properties," says the lead scientist, Dr. Elena Marusich. "We have shown it to be more effective than antibiotics, so it could virtually replace antibiotics in agriculture for fighting phytopathogenic bacteria."

More specifically, Petri dish tests showed AWME to be highly effective at killing five strains of pathogenic bacteria known to infect plants. And as an added bonus, the extract can reportedly be refrigerated for long periods of time without losing its antimicrobial properties.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Microorganisms.

Source: MIPT

1 comment
ljaques
It's not pretty, but if it works, go for it. (Yes, I'll have a maggot juice, grande, with cream and sugar, please.")