Peptides Provide Proven Plant Health Benefits

There’s a lot of excitement about these molecules right now, but they’ve been helping growers for a long time.

Peptides are making the headlines right now due to some promising research showing they may help in developing HLB-resistant citrus stock. While that’s exciting news for citrus growers, it’s going to take some time before these resistant varieties are available.

However growers need not wait in order to reap the crop protection benefits of peptides. The role of peptides in inducing the systemic acquired resistance (SAR) immune response in plants has been known for decades. For more than 20 years, KeyPlex, a leading developer of nutritional products, has been researching how to elicit this response. In 1998, the company undertook a joint research project with the USDA to show that its KeyPlex 350 and KeyPlex 350 OR fertilizers contain peptides that induce this immune response in crops.

Peptides are naturally produced by all classes of living organisms. They are the target of research in human health in fighting cancer and in enhancing existing antibiotics or even creating new ones. Peptides are found in powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics such as vancomycin, some of which are referred to treatments of last resort for bacteria that have proven resistant to many other antibiotics. As in plants, they play a role in triggering or enhancing the body’s response to pathogens.

Harnessing the protective action of peptides in crops can result in fewer inputs, healthier plants and greater yields. Peptides are made up of amino acids, like proteins. The main difference is in the length of the amino acid chain; peptides are shorter. Along with the aforementioned  anti-bacterial qualities, peptides are antifungal and antiviral. They work by breaking down the cell walls or disrupting the membranes of pathogenic microbes and neutralize viruses by enveloping them, preventing replication and destructive action. Besides triggering the SAR response, the list of plant health benefits includes minimizing cell damage from pathogens by breaking down toxins and strengthening plant cell walls, and enhancing resistance to environmental stressors.

KeyPlex has focused on peptide research from its beginning as a company, and it has used its deep knowledge to develop products such as KeyPlex 350 and KeyPlex 350 OR that maximize the plant health benefits of peptides to produce healthier, more robust, more pest-resistant crops. The results are not just there for the eye to see; they are also there in the bottom line.

KeyPlex 350 and KeyPlex 350 OR are EPA-registered products.