Neo has a new job. He’s not fighting the Matrix anymore; instead, he’s fighting fungus.
No, Keanu Reeves isn’t in a post-apocalyptic film. (Pedro Pascal has that spore storyline covered.)
A group of German researchers has found and tested three natural compounds that kill fungi, CNN reported.
The compounds were so effective in killing fungi, they’ve named them after Reeves, thanks to his characters in “The Matrix” and “John Wick.”
The antifungals, now called “keanumycines,” are a natural byproduct of Pseudomonas which are found in soil and water and were found when the researchers were seeing if they would kill predatory amoebas.
“Many of these bacterial species (Pseudomonas) are very toxic to amoebae, which feed on bacteria,” Pierre Stallforth, the lead study author and head of the Leibniz Institute’s paleobiotechnology department, said in a statement, according to CNN.
And they did the job well.
“We were just basically blown away by the high activity,” researcher and study coauthor Sebastian Götze said, according to The Washington Post. “That’s why we basically said, ‘Yeah, it’s like an assassin, a hit man or something, killing a couple of different fungi very effectively.’”
Reeves wrote about the honor during a Reddit Q-and-A event, the Post reported.
“They should’ve called it John Wick … but that’s pretty cool … and surreal for me,” Reeves wrote. “But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us.”
Fungal infections have been under a microscope recently, partially due to the HBO series “The Last of Us,” which stars Pascal, a survivor of a worldwide fungal outbreak that causes people to turn into zombie hosts for the spores.
In an instance of art imitating life — minus the zombies of course — fungi are becoming more resistant to antifungals, Sebastian Götze said.
“We have a crisis in anti-infectives. … Many human-pathogenic fungi are now resistant to antimycotics (antifungals) — partly because they are used in large quantities in agricultural fields,” Götze said, according to CNN.
As fungi evolved, so did the science to battle them.
“This study documents another exciting means by which microbes have evolved to compete with and fight other organisms,” Dr. Matt Nelsen, a researcher from Chicago’s Field Museum, told CNN.
“Previous efforts have sought to exploit such natural products for human use to combat animal and plant pathogens,” Nelsen said. “However, over time, many pathogenic organisms — including fungi — have evolved resistance to the chemicals we use to battle them. Consequently, we need to find a new way to ‘outsmart’ or ‘one-up’ them.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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