Saturday, April 1, 2023
April 1, 2023

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New fungicide named for Keanu Reeves


Fans are used to Keanu Reeves playing characters that kill their enemies.

So it’s no wonder that scientists in Germany named a group of new fungus-killing compounds after him: keanumycins.

Scientists hope it can kill fungus known to threaten crops and treat fungal infections in humans.

“The lipopeptides kill so efficiently that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles,” Sebastian Götze, the lead author of the study on the killer, said in a statement.

Although the study by the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology was published early last month, news of the discovery didn’t make its way to “The Matrix” star until a recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.

Reeves was grateful for the shoutout, but wished the scientists named it after one of his lethal alter egos instead.

“Hi, thank you…they should’ve called it John Wick…but that’s pretty cool…and surreal for me,” Reeves wrote through the Lionsgate account in response to a user who shared the news, referring to his titular character in the popular action franchise. “But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us.”

Finding such antifungal properties that actually work is rare, Götze explained, partly because fungicides are used so heavily in agricultural produce, which allows the fungus to build resistance.

Fungal disease leads to losses in numerous fruit and vegetable harvests each year, especially strawberries and grapes, the institute said.

Another potential benefit of keanumycins is that they are environmentally friendly. Unlike chemical pesticides often used to kill crop-threatening fungus, Götze said the molecule is biodegradable and won’t stick around in the soil for long.

Scientists also hope the compounds can be developed into pharmaceutical drugs for human use soon.

“These are also urgently needed,” Götze said, “as there are very few drugs against fungal infections on the market.”