The Many Uses of Myrothecium verrucaria
Myrothecium verrucaria is a common Deuteromycete found all around the world and is quite the potent cellulose decomposer and potential plant pathogen.
Because of that ability it has been tested by the United States Department of Agriculture to control invasive weeds such as kudzu. It is very fast acting, seeing degradation of health in the kudzu vine within twelve hours of application.
M. verrucaria also capable of killing specific plant parasitic forms of nematode, without harming the roots they infest or the free living nematodes in the area.
So this little Deutero-dude can be used as an herbicide, simultaneously it can be used to protect plants from parasitic worms. Talk about flexible!
Oh, but it appears there is more that this little fella can do. A recent study published in PLoS ) One describes a novel “white” laccase (A form of the laccase with a max spectral absorption of 600nm) produced by M. verrucaria that is capable of decolorizing a wide range of dyes.
In this study, the team of Dan Zhao, Xi Zhang, Daizong Cui, and Min Zhao isolated a unique form of laccase that when purified was capable of rapidly (In four out of the twelve dyes tested it only took 10 minutes!) removing the dye pigment.
Laccases are actually already used to decolor dyes in several textile processes, and the wide range of dyes that the particular form produced by M. verrucaria leads to yet another potential area that this fungus is capable of useful application.
So we now a single species capable of being a , pesticide, herbicide, and dye remover(dyeicide?). Oh and laccases such as the ones produced by M. verrucaria are also used as preservatives in drinks such as beer and juice. I am starting think the uses may in fact be unlimited.
Oh, and less you think this Fungus is all friendly, remember the cellulose decomposing capabilities I mentioned? It doesnt, mind using those skills to break down cotton…
So there you have it, one species, capable of giving us so much and at the same time taking the very shirt off our backs.
Myrothecium verrucaria is a plant pathogen. It is common throughout the world, often found on materials such as paper, textiles, canvas and cotton. It is a highly potent cellulose decomposer.
It has been formulated into a pesticide for control of nematodes and weeds. The pesticide’s active ingredient is a mixture of the killed fungus, M. verrucaria, and the liquid in which the fungus was grown. The dead fungus kills specific parasitic microscopic pests called nematodes, which attack plants, usually through their roots. The active ingredient is specific, being effective only against nematodes that parasitize plants; it does not harm free-living nematodes. Because the mixture may be toxic to aquatic organisms, it is not approved for use in or near bodies of water. No harmful effects to humans are expected as long as applicators protect their eyes and skin from contact with pesticide products that contain this active ingredient.
Since 1998, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service(ARS) has experimented with using M. verrucaria as a biologically-based herbicide againstkudzu vines. A spray based on M. verrucaria works under a variety of conditions (including the absence of dew), causes minimal injury to many of the other woody plants in kudzu-infested habitats, and takes effect fast enough that kudzu treated with it in the morning starts showing evidence of damage by mid-afternoon. Initial formulations of the herbicide produced toxic levels of trichothecene as a byproduct, though the ARS discovered that growing M. verrucaria in a fermenter on a liquid instead of a solid diet limited or eliminated the problem