Scientists recently discovered a fungus-killing molecule so good at its job, it was named after everyone’s favorite Hollywood assassin Keanu Reeves. Named keanumycins, they are incredibly potent against fungi that both kill crops and infect humans, adding a new weapon to the very limited arsenal of fungicides currently available.
According to the researchers, they were named after Reeves because just like the molecules, "he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles."
Now, Keanu Reeves has responded to the naming, pointing out that being immortalized in the scientific community is awesome, but that he is not the ruthless killer that he plays in movies.
“...Hi, thank you…they should’ve called it John Wick…but that’s pretty cool…and surreal for me. But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us,” said Reeves in a Reddit Ask Me Anything post.
It’s a fair point; maybe “baba-yagamycins” was already taken.
The molecules were discovered after scientists looked for a viable alternative to current antimycotics, which many human-pathogenic fungi are now resistant to. The team discovered the new keanumycins, which are naturally produced by bacteria, had some astounding qualities.
“Theoretically, the keanumycin-containing supernatant from Pseudomonas cultures could be used directly for plants,” explained study author Sebastian Götze, of the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology, in a statement.
It’s also biodegradable, so has far better environmental credentials than chemical pesticides. It is an encouraging start, which the authors intend to follow up with further research, but it doesn’t only stop at plants.
"In addition, we tested the isolated substance against various fungi that infect humans. We found that it strongly inhibits the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans, among others," Götze continued.
Promisingly, keanumycin seems to work at low concentrations without being highly toxic to human cells.