Scientists have discovered an environmentally friendly replacement for pesticides
Despite the seeming inaction, plants have the ability to warn each other of danger with the help of volatile organic compounds. For example, in the course of studying soybeans and moonbeans, it turned out that these crops are capable of releasing terpenoids, which in turn activate the defense genes of neighboring plants of the same species. This chemically induced gene activation helps plants defend against pests.
Scientists from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, decided to use this feature to create an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical pesticides. The subject of the study was menthol, which is obtained from mint leaves and has the ability to activate the immune system of plants. The goal of the project was to create compounds structurally similar to menthol, but more effective in activating plant defense mechanisms. For this, menthol was chemically modified by adding amino acids. One of the six synthesized compounds, called ment-Val, showed greater efficiency compared to the original. Experiments have shown that ment-Val increases gene expression in soybeans, peas, tobacco, lettuce, and corn.