Pesticide treatment reduces hydrophobic pollutant contamination in Cucurbita pepo through competitive binding to major latex-like proteins

Environ Pollut. 2020 Nov;266(Pt 2):115179. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115179. Epub 2020 Jul 18.


Hydrophobic pollutants are still present in agricultural soil. The Cucurbitaceae family accumulates hydrophobic pollutants through roots, resulting in the contamination of aerial parts. Major latex-like proteins (MLPs), found in the Cucurbitaceae family, play an important role in the contamination by binding to these hydrophobic pollutants. Thus far, efficient cultivation methods for the production of safe crops with lower concentrations of hydrophobic pollutants have not been developed. Herein, we competitively inhibited the binding of MLPs to hydrophobic pollutants, pyrene and dieldrin, in roots by using MLP binding pesticides. By conducting a chemical array screening, we found that MLPs bound compounds with indole- and quinazoline-like structures. Commercially available pesticides amisulbrom and pyrifluquinazon, which possess such structures, successfully inhibited the binding of MLPs to pyrene and dieldrin in vitro. When zucchini plants were cultivated in the contaminated soil with 1.25 mmol/kg pyrene and 12.5 μmol/kg dieldrin, the concentration of pyrene and dieldrin in xylem sap was significantly decreased by 30% and 15%, respectively. Our results demonstrate that the pesticides binding to MLPs competitively inhibited the binding of MLPs to pyrene and dieldrin in roots, resulting in the reduction of overall contamination. This study proposes a novel approach to cultivate safer crops and advances the utilization of unknown functions of pesticides.

Keywords: Competitive binding inhibition; Cucurbita pepo; Hydrophobic pollutant; Major latex-like protein; Pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Binding, Competitive
  • Cucurbita*
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Latex
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Latex
  • Pesticides
  • Soil Pollutants