Optimizing production and evaluating biosynthesis in situ of a herbicidal compound, mevalocidin, from Coniolariella sp.
A multiyear effort to identify new natural products was built on a hypothesis that both phytotoxins from plant pathogens and antimicrobial compounds might demonstrate herbicidal activity. The discovery of one such compound, mevalocidin, is described in the current report. Mevalocidin was discovered from static cultures of two unrelated fungal isolates designated Rosellinia DA092917 and Fusarium DA056446. The chemical structure was confirmed by independent synthesis. Mevalocidin demonstrated broad spectrum post-emergence activity on grasses and broadleaves and produced a unique set of visual symptoms on treated plants suggesting a novel mode of action. Mevalocidin was rapidly absorbed in a representative grass and broadleaf plant. Translocation occurred from the treated leaf to other plant parts including roots confirming phloem as well as xylem mobility. By 24 hr after application, over 20 % had been redistributed through-out the plant. Mevalocidin is a unique phytotoxin based on its chemistry, with the uncommon attribute of demonstrating both xylem and phloem mobility in grass and broadleaf plants.