AWC - Funded Research

Use of antifungal lipids in crop protection

AWC contribution: $72,500


This project aims to determine whether antifungal lipids are an economically viable alternative to current fungicides in crop protection. Based on the high specific activity of these hydroxy fatty acids, improved control of phytopathogens by antimicrobial lipids can be achieved based on (i) the specific activity of antifungal lipids at low concentrations and (ii) their potential contribution to plant signaling to increase the resistance of crops against phytopathogens. Moreover, antifungal lipids are biodegradable, excluding the occurrence of fungicide residues in crops.


  1. To develop processes for the production of antifungal lipids from unsaturated fatty acids that can be scaled for industrial production
  2. To test the compounds for activity against phytopathogens
  3. To apply antifungal lipids on crops to demonstrate their potential to reduce economic losses caused by infection of canola, wheat, and barley

Benefit to producers:

The project will provide new technologies for enzymatic or chemical production of antifungal (bioactive) lipids, and it will provide proof of concept that antifungal lipids are a useful in crop protection against phytopathogens. The experimental design will further assess whether antifungal lipids modulate signaling related to the plant defense against pathogens.


Michael Gänzle is Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Food Microbiology and Probiotics at the University of Alberta, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science. His research projects focus on the functional characterisation of lactic acid bacteria for use as starter cultures, protective cultures, or probiotics in food with a focus on cereal-associated lactic acid bacteria; production of oligosaccharides from sucrose or lactose by lactic acid bacteria and biological activities of oligosaccharides; novel, non-thermal preservation methods with a focus on high pressure processing and biopreservation; and intestinal microbial ecology with focus on the use of prebiotic carbohydrates and dietary fibre to improve host health.