Exploring the antimicrobial properties of garlic, mango, and eucalyptus

While research in recent years has taken great strides in sequencing DNA, there remains many questions about how DNA is expressed and how genes give function to the proteins they encode.  By synthesizing proteins from the Snakin gene family in garlic, mango, and eucalyptus, Dr. Ana Laura Torres Huerta seeks to confirm the antimicrobial properties of this gene with hopes of fighting agricultural problems and human diseases. View Halo Profile >>

Tell us about your research

Our research is based on the characterization of the gene expression of Snakin-1 in  Allium Sativum, Mangifera Indica and Eucalyptus Globulus. Due to their antimicrobial activity, mango, garlic and eucalyptus are great candidates for obtaining Snakin-1. Our goal is to produce the snakin-type peptides from garlic, mango and eucalyptus recombinantly and by chemical synthesis to evaluate their antimicrobial and fungicidal activity against species that represent a problem in Mexican agriculture. To achieve such a goal, the initial step is the identification in silico of the garlic, mango and eucalyptus  sequences. We want to study the expression profile of the peptide and,  in order to evaluate its properties, its recombinant production and obtention through chemical synthesis are proposed. With this, its antimicrobial and fungicidal activity will be evaluated.  

Our goal is to produce the snakin-type peptides from garlic, mango and eucalyptus recombinantly and by chemical synthesis to evaluate their antimicrobial and fungicidal activity against species that represent a problem in Mexican agriculture.

Can you explain that to a non-scientist?

Our research seeks to confirm whether the antimicrobial properties of garlic, mango and eucalyptus are a result of the Snakin gene in their DNA sequences. If that is the case, we want to understand to what extent these genes are expressed, in which specific tissue  and how their antimicrobial, fungicidal activity works against which pathogens. This would allow us to exploit their properties in the form of products for agriculture and in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. 

Our research seeks to confirm whether the antimicrobial properties of garlic, mango and eucalyptus are a result of the Snakin gene in their DNA sequences.

Why did you choose this area of research?

There hasn’t been much information reported on the function of the Snakin/GASA family or characterization of these genes in many species (aside from Solanum Tuberosum). Expressing proteins in plants is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, some of the snakin-type proteins have been produced recombinantly in bacteria and yeasts, resulting in optimal expression and the proteins maintaining their functionality.  In recent years, the availability of information has made it possible to have data on both model plant species and native species. The latter stand out for their importance in folk medicine and remain little explored. 

How could your Grants4Ag project someday impact #healthforall  #hungerfornone? 

By studying and researching the science behind the well-reported antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral activity in many species and understanding whether said activity is originated in specific genes from the Snakin/GASA family, we could potentially utilize this research into fighting antimicrobial resistance in human diseases as well as pests and other pathogens that affect large food crops.