Maple leaves to fight bacteria

A Université Laval researcher is interested in the virtues of maple leaves in the treatment of bacteria that affect certain plants, such as lettuce and strawberries.

Maples are not only used to sweeten the beak. Maxime Delisle-Houde, postdoctoral fellow at Laval University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, is closely studying the antibacterial potential of these leaves.

“I started to take an interest in it a little by chance in a certain way”, expressed Mr. Delisle-Houde.

There are few products on the market that target bacteria that are harmful to plants. Most of them contain copper, he explained.

When they are not used under good conditions, they are often the cause of necrosis on the leaves. It was therefore by wanting to develop a new product without risk for humans that he became interested in the maple leaf.

“I tested a very wide range of plant extracts, nearly a hundred, most of which are found in Canada. »

“I was checking the inhibition of the extract on bacteria that were affecting lettuce cultivation. The zone of inhibition that was caused by the sugar maple leaf extract was 5-10 times greater than that of just regarding every other extract I tested. »

Active compound

Mr. Delisle-Houde continued his work during his doctorate. He was able to split the sugar maple leaf extract into several parts which he individually tested.

“We managed to identify the active compound that was mainly responsible for inhibiting the growth of bacteria. It’s an ellagitannin. »

Greenhouse trials are underway to validate the effectiveness of the treatment, which will be tested in the fields next summer.

“By the end of the year, we should have the first results that will be published,” he said.

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“For the moment, it remains preliminary. I prefer not to go too far yet. »

Raw material

Depending on the process used, the leaves are collected and ground. They are mixed in ethanol to extract the active compound. Mr. Delisle-Houde sees this as a marketing opportunity for spraying plants.

The leaves come from the Roger-Van den Hende Garden, but the supply of raw material is not likely to pose a problem.

“In the future, we might imagine collecting some of the leaves on the ground from maple syrup producers to produce our extract in greater quantities,” he suggests.

Crop-affecting bacteria reduce yield in fields. Certain diseases also render the fruit inedible.

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