Pumpkins Pack Natural Fungus Fighter

Scientists have found a new anti-fungal protein in pumpkin skin, according to a new study. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The skin from your Jack-o'-Lantern could contain a fungus-fighting medicine, according to a new study.

Pumpkins have traditionally been used for medicines in countries such as China and India, and some anti-fungal substances have already been identified from its seeds and leaves.

In an attempt to find new antibiotics, a group of scientists from Korea looked to the pumpkin skin. They purified proteins from the rind, and tested them to see if any could combat the growth of microbes, including Candida albicans, a fungus that can cause vaginal yeast infections and infant diaper rash, as well as other health problems.

They identified one protein from the pumpkin skin that had a powerful anti-fungal effect – it inhibited the growth of Candida albicans in cell culture experiments, and did not appear toxic.

The scientist believe this protein could be developed into a medicine for yeast infections. They also suggest the protein could be genetically engineered into crop plants to help them fight off fungus, since the protein appeared effective against several other fungi known to cause crop problems.

The work was published September 22 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.