Breakthrough dual fungicide technology could help prevent crop failures

15 Jun 2015 14:09:24.563
An expert in environmental toxins at The University of Nottingham has developed a new antifungal technology which has the potential to play a major role in securing future food supplies.
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Blocking fungal growth
Professor Simon Avery from the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences has discovered that two agents, when combined, affect the process of protein synthesis, and have the potential to effectively block fungal growth in certain types of fungi which cause disease in crops or in humans.

Crop losses due to fungal spoilage each year are equivalent to the amount of food that could feed up to four billion people. In the developed world, millions of tonnes of crops are ruined each year by fungi and the problem is especially acute in developing countries where access to fungicides is more limited.

One of the problems with fungicides is that in many cases, the fungi adapt to the treatment, which means that most fungicides are only effective for a limited period. The solution developed by the University uses two agents which should make it more difficult for the fungi to acquire resistance to the fungicide.

Field trials
Explaining how the technology works, Professor Avery said: “Protein synthesis is essential to enable organisms to grow. When these two agents are applied it causes errors in the synthesis process that stop the fungus growing.”

After making the breakthrough discovery, which is patented by the University, Professor Avery and his team received initial development support through the University's HERMES scheme. This enabled him to secure additional funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Science and Research Council (BBSRC) to further develop the technology.  Field trials will take place this summer to study the impact of the fungicides on crops which are subjected to different environmental conditions.

Commercial potential
Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Intellectual Property and Commercialisation at The University of Nottingham, commented: “This fungicidal technology has real commercial potential. It is one of a number of exciting technologies that we are currently developing within the agricultural sector, which we believe could play a significant role in the future of farming globally.

“We are particularly keen to hear from any businesses which might be interested in working with us to take Professor Avery’s fungicides to a stage where they can be commercialised.”

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World’s Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future

Story credits

For more information about this story, please contact Professor Simon Avery on +44(0)115 95 13315 or email
Nick King  

Nick King - Marketing and Communications Manager, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 86727 Location: Coates Building, Faculty of Engineering, University Park Nottingham

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Published Date
Monday 5th September 2011

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