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Chinese study on chitin biosynthesis sheds light on green pesticide development

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-09-22 14:44

BEIJING -- A new study by Chinese scientists has revealed for the first time the complete process of chitin biosynthesis, providing a new direction for the original innovation of green pesticides.

The study was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, according to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Pesticides can reduce a lot of economic losses, but it faces serious challenges from their toxicity and resistance to pests and diseases.

The core of developing safe pesticides with a new mechanism of action lies in pesticide molecular targets. A specific pesticide molecular target may give birth to dozens or even hundreds of new pesticides.

Chitin is the most abundant aminopolysaccharide on earth, and its biosynthesis is essential for the survival and reproduction of a large number of organisms, including many pests, pathogenic fungi, and oomycetes that seriously harm crop production. Meanwhile, as chitin does not exist in plants and mammals, it is an ideal molecular target for the development of green fungicides or insecticides.

However, little is known about the mechanism of chitin biosynthesis in previous studies.

Scientists from the Institute of Plant Protection of the CAAS studied PsChs1, a chitin synthase from Phytophthora Sojae, the main pathogen causing soybean rhizome rot, which causes more than one billion dollars in economic losses every year globally.

The researchers analyzed the cryo-electron microscopy structure of PsChs1, revealing the whole process of chitin biosynthesis for the first time.

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