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BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- A new study by Chinese scientists has revealed for the first time the complete process of chitin biosynthesis, providing a new direction for the original innovation of green pesticides.
The study was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, according to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).
Pesticides can reduce a lot of economic losses, but it faces serious challenges from their toxicity and resistance to pests and diseases.
The core of developing safe pesticides with a new mechanism of action lies in pesticide molecular targets. A specific pesticide molecular target may give birth to dozens or even hundreds of new pesticides.
Chitin is the most abundant aminopolysaccharide on earth, and its biosynthesis is essential for the survival and reproduction of a large number of organisms, including many pests, pathogenic fungi, and oomycetes that seriously harm crop production. Meanwhile, as chitin does not exist in plants and mammals, it is an ideal molecular target for the development of green fungicides or insecticides.
However, little is known about the mechanism of chitin biosynthesis in previous studies.
Scientists from the Institute of Plant Protection of the CAAS studied PsChs1, a chitin synthase from Phytophthora Sojae, the main pathogen causing soybean rhizome rot, which causes more than one billion dollars in economic losses every year globally.
The researchers analyzed the cryo-electron microscopy structure of PsChs1, revealing the whole process of chitin biosynthesis for the first time.
The study provides key information on molecular target structure for developing green pesticides, offers a new solution for controlling the resistance of pests and diseases to existing pesticides, and outlines a new direction for the reform and green development of the pesticide industry, according to the CAAS.
Calling the study a major advancement in the field of biology, Kang Le, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and president of the Hebei University, said it sheds new light on the control of harmful insect populations.
The research will help develop crucial green pesticides to improve the ability to prevent and control agricultural pests and ensure the country's food security, said Song Baoan, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and president of the Guizhou University.
Qian Xuhong, an academician with the CAE and president of the East China Normal University, said this study indicates that pesticide research and development in China has risen to the level of original innovation in basic theory, and that it is one of the most important fundamental advances in global pesticide innovation research in recent decades.
The CAAS plans to strengthen the application of the research findings and accelerate the development of green pesticides against chitin synthases. ■