A team of researchers based in Germany discovered highly efficient fungus-killing compounds and decided to name it after Keanu Reeves, an actor who, in many of his action movies, successfully eliminates villains.
“We were just basically blown away by the high activity,” states Sebastian Götze from the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology and lead author of the study. “That’s why we basically said, ‘Yeah, it’s like an assassin, a hit man or something, killing a couple of different fungi very effectively.’”
The bacterial compounds called Keanumycins are created from soil- and water-dwelling bacteria in the genus Pseudomonas which uses the compounds as a protection against amoebas. Keanumycins are effective against Botrytis cinerea, a common plant pest that causes gray mold rot that affects some 200 types of fruits and vegetables, including strawberries and grapes. It is believed that the newly discovered compound could be an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to chemicals used in agriculture. Amid an antibiotic crisis – with a large number of bacteria and fungi now resistant to different antibiotics and antifungals – Keanumycins could be used to develop new antifungal medication. Indeed, they have been shown to not be toxic again human cells in small doses, and effective against Candida albicans, the fungus commonly found in human bodies and responsible for yeast infections.