Universal Tool-Kit for Pathogenic Bacteria in Plants

Climate on Earth is changing and brings to us New Challenge – global rise and  fast geographical migration of bacterial infections. Agriculture has the strong need to manage Bacterial Pathogens. Demand for food is expected +30% by 2050. Phyto-pathogens and pests are responsible for substantial loss of crop yields creating the urge for the universal and integrated crop protection solution.

Artificially designed Modular Bacterial Lysins (MBL) are entering the market for human and animal Pathogens as pharmaceutical products. Clinical Phase II trials are going on now by GangaGen, ContraFect, Intron Biotechnology, Micreos Cosmetics, and Lysando. By applying MBL technological platform to Phyto-Pathogens we are planning to solve the ongoing Climate Challenge in agriculture.

Scientific background

Phages and their lysines are the natural antibacterial tools. Many species of bacteria are subject to lysis by the enzyme lysozyme, found in animal saliva, egg white, and other secretions. Phage lytic enzymes (lysins) produced during bacteriophage infection are responsible for the ability of these viruses to lyse bacterial cells. However, if applied extracellular, endolysins can work only on Gram-positive bacteria while the outer extra- membrane of Gram-negative bacteria renders the natural endolysins largely ineffective.

What is Modular Bacterial Lysine, or MBL?

MBL is a New Technology Platform to combat bacterial pathogens. It is possible to design specific MBLs to target nearly every bacterial species.

MBL’s represent a new class of molecules designed by the combination of phage endolysins with targeting peptides. The novel artificially designed element of MBL enables the lytic enzyme domain to pass the outer membrane and reach the layer of cell wall peptidoglycan. Destabilised bacterial cell wall is not able to hold the high osmotic pressure resulting in the fast and efficient cell lysis.

Difference with antibiotics and small molecules is bio-safety and targeted action. They can be narrow tuned for action repertoire to target just small group of closely related bacterial species. They can be used both ways, externally, with fertiliser or water, and via genetic modification of the plant itself. Short acting, biodegradable and do not accumulate in food chains and environment. Safe for animals and humans. Some of them already entered Phase II clinical trials for humane and animal applications.

Universal Tool-Kit concept:

We are going to produce a set (~100) of selected designer bacterial lysine’s in our universal expression vector. It will be available to everyone worldwide as a ”Plant Pathogens Tool-Kit”. It will include the library of plasmids DNA, or ready-made Agrobacterium tumefacience strains for plant transformation, or genetically pre-modified test-plants (Nicotiana tabacum) producing active MBL’s in their biomass. Our Tool-Kit will be easy to use in local labs for screening the local bacterial pathogens for sensitivity and to scale up the on-spot production of candidate lysine’s for the field trials. There is no need for sophisticated protein purification, just grinder plant biomass slurry in water and it can be used as a test-treatment.

Nandini Bhogar, Belgium

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