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Weed killers of the future could soon be based on failed antibiotics.
A molecule that was initially developed to treat tuberculosis but failed to progress out of the lab as an antibiotic is now showing promise as a powerful foe for weeds that invade our gardens and cost farmers billions of dollars each year.
While the failed antibiotic wasn't fit for its original purpose, scientists at the University of Adelaide discovered that by tweaking its structure, the molecule became effective at killing two of the most problematic weeds in Australia, annual ryegrass and wild radish, without harming bacterial and human cells. This research has been published in the journal Communications Biology.
"This discovery is a potential game changer for the agricultural industry. Many weeds are now resistant to the existing herbicides on the market, costing farmers billions of dollars each year," said lead researcher Dr. Tatiana Soares da Costa from the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute.