"Environment" research area

Lowering Copper Concentrations in Agricultural Pesticides

Primary Investigator - Christine SalomonPrimary Investigator: Christine Salomon
Co-Investigators
: NA
Industry Partners: NA
Award Type: Seed Grant - Undergraduate Research Scholar

Problem: Copper is regularly used to treat fungal and bacterial diseases in the agriculture industry. In Minnesota, pesticides that contain copper can leach into local water systems. While low levels of copper do not impact humans, the metal can be toxic for microbial communities, plants, invertebrates, and fish. New pesticides with lower concentrations of copper are needed to reduce the environmental impact of treating fungal and bacterial diseases in the agricultural industry. 

Solution: The Salomon Lab recently identified a Streptomyces bacterial isolate from the Soudan Iron Mine that produces antifungal metabolites. These metabolites inhibit the growth of pathogenic yeasts and show increased antifungal activity with the addition of low concentrations of copper. MnDRIVE researchers will determine which agricultural pathogens the isolates work against and optimal copper ratios that increase antifungal activity the most. 

Impact: Using a naturally produced antifungal will reduce the need for toxic levels of copper in agricultural pesticides. The project will include application of the low-copper products on plants in a greenhouse setting to demonstrate proof-of-concept. A new, low-copper pesticide will help protect Minnesota’s environment from copper contamination.