Horse dung may save your life


B. McPherson
Copper metal kills bacteria. Copper plated push plates on doors cut infections.
Horse poop has long been known as great for gardens, but save your life? Mushroom growers know that horse manure is ideal for producing those delectable morsels. A mushroom of a different kind – the inky cap(Coprinus comatus) has researchers hot on the trail of a new antibiotic.

The promising new compound is copsin, a protein substance that interferes with cell wall formation. Bacteria have cell walls. Scientists are reproducing the substance via genetically modified yeast. It is a long way from growing yeast in small scale batches to industrial production and clinical trials.

Medical researchers have been sounding the alarm about multi-resistant bacterial infections. Gradually, as an antibiotic comes into widespread use, it loses its ability to kill bacteria. When penicillin was first produced it could wipe out nearly any infection, revolutionizing modern medicine. 
Other fungal based bacteria killers also came on line to help fight disease. But over time, bacteria have evolved resistance to the compounds.

The situation has not been helped with careless prescribing of antibiotics for people. But 85% of antibiotic use in N. America is used in the agriculture industry. From feeding animals to produce faster weight gain to spraying on fruit crops to keep the spots off, by far the greatest use of antibiotics is in agriculture.

Other names for inky cap:  lawyers wig, shaggy mane

Shaggy mane mushrooms are also nematode killers. They are able to kill and digest small round worms. Organisms in the Fungus Kingdom exhibit characteristics like plants at times, and at other times exhibit animal like characteristics.
Sources:
CBC News                          
Wikipedia                           
Journal of Biological Chemistry                  

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