Like us humans, crop plants are infected with bacteria. Although antibiotics are often used to kill these microorganisms, compounds extracted from fly larvae fat may prove to be a more environmentally friendly option because antibiotic pesticides are not only expensive, but they are introduced into the environment and lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Inspired by previous research, scientists at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have set their sights on the larvae of the black soldier fly as an alternative. This fatty and protein-rich larvae are ready because they are commercially bred as feed for fish and other livestock.
The researchers first collected fat from the larvae by squeezing them under a press. The key fatty acids are then extracted from the fat using an organic solvent consisting of water, methanol and hydrochloric acid.
Lead researcher Elena Marusich and phD student Heakal Mohamed at the Natalia Arefieva/MIPT Press Office at MIPT’s Laboratory for Innovative Medicines and Agricultural Biotechnology Development.
“The resulting extract — called AWME (acidified water-methanol extract) — has antibacterial properties,” said lead scientist Dr. Elena Marusich. “We’ve shown that it’s more effective than antibiotics, so it can almost replace antibiotics in agriculture against plant pathogens.”
More specifically, Petri dish trials have shown that AWME is very effective in killing five pathogenic strains of plants known to be infected. And as an added bonus, the extract is said to be refrigerated for long periods of time without losing its antibacterial resistance.
A paper on the study was recently published in the journal Microbiology.