Bacteria sugar may be an alternative to controversial glyphosate

Researchers at the University of Tübingen have newly discovered a sugar molecule synthesized from cyanobacteria that inhibits the growth of various microorganisms and plants but is harmless to humans and animals. This sugar molecule called “7-deoxy-sedoheptulose (7dSh)” blocks a key enzyme DHQS (Dehydroquinatesynthase) of the shikimate pathway, a metabolic pathway that occurs only in microorganisms and plants.

The rare deoxy sugar was isolated from cultures of the freshwater cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongates; scientists succeeded in deciphering the structure and molecular mechanism of 7dSh to obtain precise insights into its inhibition mechanism. The best known inhibitors of the shikmate pathway is the controversial herbicide glyphosate which scientists hope can be replaced by 7dSh and reduce the health risks associated with herbicide metabolites.