Nutmeg Compounds Fight Plant Disease by Blocking Fungi Growth

Greg Howard
18th January, 2024

Nutmeg Compounds Fight Plant Disease by Blocking Fungi Growth

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Nutmeg, a spice that’s often found sprinkled on lattes and seasonal treats, has more to offer than just flavor. Researchers have been paying close attention to nutmeg for its variety of health-promoting compounds. Interestingly, it has untapped potential in protecting crops. This is significant considering that ensuring the health of crops is vital for food production. A recent study takes a deeper dive into what’s inside nutmeg. Scientists extracted compounds from nutmeg using a mix of water and ethanol, and then used advanced techniques like gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and vibrational spectroscopy to figure out the exact components. These methods are sophisticated ways to identify and analyze the various elements at a molecular level. The analysis revealed that nutmeg is rich in fatty acids, which are essential components of many biological processes. Some specific fatty acids found include tetradecanoic acid, 9-octadecenoic acid, n-hexadecanoic acid, dodecanoic acid, and octadecanoic acid. In addition, compounds like methoxyeugenol and elemicin were noted as main constituents. Interestingly, the researchers discovered compounds previously unreported in nutmeg, such as veratone, gelsevirine, and montanine. The researchers didn’t just stop at identifying what’s in nutmeg; they wanted to know if it could defend plants against pathogens – organisms that cause disease. They tested the extract against a variety of fungi and oomycetes that cause harm to crops. These include the likes of Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum acutatum, Diplodia corticola, Phytophthora cinnamomi, and Fusarium culmorum. The last one is especially troublesome for wheat and barley crops around the world. The results showed promise. Nutmeg extract hindered the growth of these plant pathogens significantly. Especially noteworthy were its effects against Fusarium culmorum, showcasing its potential as a natural way to protect crops. The researchers went further to understand how nutmeg extract combats these pathogens. They used yeast as a model organism, specifically a type of yeast used in research (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) treated with propidium iodide, a substance that highlights dead cells, and a mutant yeast strain with alterations in its sterol C-24 methyltransferase gene (ERG6), which is involved in producing certain important cell membrane components. Results suggested that nutmeg extract causes a type of cell death called necrosis and interferes with the production of ergosterol, an essential component in the cell membranes of fungi. By doing so, nutmeg extract disrupts the pathogens' cell structures, thus inhibiting their growth. In summary, the research reveals that nutmeg contains compounds capable of halting the growth of certain crop pathogens, particularly in the case of Fusarium culmorum. The methods by which it achieves this – causing death and interrupting essential cell membrane production – demonstrate its potential effectiveness as a natural defense for crops. This opens up the possibility of using nutmeg extract as a new antimicrobial agent in agriculture, potentially reducing the reliance on synthetic chemicals.

BiochemPlant ScienceSpices


Main Study

1) Phytoconstituents and Ergosterol Biosynthesis-Targeting Antimicrobial Activity of Nutmeg (Myristica fragans Houtt.) against Phytopathogens.

Published 18th January, 2024

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