Fungus may hold the key to neutralizing skunk spray
If you or your dog has ever been sprayed by a skunk, then you'll know that a tomato-juice bath does not work for getting rid of the smell. Even products that are sold as skunk deodorizers are often disappointing. It turns out that a chemical derived from fungi, however, may do the trick.
Led by Prof. Robert Cichewicz, scientists from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at San Antonio started with a naturally-occurring substance that they had previously isolated from fungi, known as pericosine A. They proceeded to mix it with different types of organosulfur compounds from skunk spray, which are what give the liquid its horrible and pervasive smell.
It was found that two of the main types of those compounds, namely thiols and thioesters, were converted to stable, odorless products by the interaction.
The researchers proceeded to slightly alter the pericosine A's structure, and to adjust other ingredients involved in the chemical reaction, ultimately producing a formula which in vitro skin and eye tests showed to be safe and non-irritating. There is currently no word on when or if a commercial product may reach the market.
A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of Natural Products.
Source: American Chemical Society