Defence molecules from plants often possess the ability to act as antimicrobials (i.e. antibiotics). Therefore, these molecules can be valuable for the food industry as natural preservatives, and for the pharmaceutical industry as inspiration for the development of new antibiotics. The main goal of this study was to explore the antimicrobial potential of defence molecules from peanut and cereals. In peanut, a class of interesting molecules are prenylated stilbenoids. These can be produced by stressing peanuts during germination. We have shown that prenylated stilbenoids exert antimicrobial action against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium which can cause antibiotic-resistant infections.
In wheat and oat, defence molecules were explored using newly set-up strategies based on mass spectrometry. However, preliminary findings suggest that avenanthramides (oat) and natural benzoxazinoids (wheat) are not active antimicrobials. On the other hand, chemically-modified benzoxazinoids include potent antimicrobials which can serve as inspiration for the design of new antibiotics.