Sojarost auf einem Blatt


Nature as a role model

In the search for new active ingredients to combat fungal diseases in cultivated plants, two researchers from BASF found the solution: they developed the fungicide F 500.

The world’s population is growing – and needs to be fed. How can harvests from fields and plantations be increased in a sensible way? Hubert Sauter and Klaus Schelberger asked themselves this question in the mid-80s. At the time, Sauter was scientific director at BASF in the fungicides research division, so his work involved combating harmful fungi. Schelberger oversaw the biological development of these fungicides. The declared aim of the two men was to protect cultivated plants from fungal diseases, for example rust in soybeans, septoria nodorum in cereals, and mildew on grapevines.

In their search for an active ingredient, the researchers made an important discovery: strobilurus tenacellus, an inconspicuous forest fungus, keeps other fungi at a distance in the fight for the food supply on the forest floor by producing and secreting a fungicidal substance called strobilurin A. Sauter and Schelberger changed the chemical structure of this substance and thus synthesized F 500 in their laboratory. This was the first plant protecting agent to take a natural ingredient from a fungus as its role model. In 2002, they applied for a patent for their “fungicidal mixture.”

For healthier, robust plants: the fungicide F 500

The advantage of the BASF researchers’ discovery is that, although effective against many fungi, it does not harm other living organisms. At the same time, the agent leads to more robust plant growth and improved stress tolerance to heat, hail, wind, and drought. In 2002, BASF finally launched the fungicide F 500 on the market. That same year, F 500 helped to successfully combat Asian soybean rust in South America, a disease that threatened harvests in many parts of the world at that time.

Image (plant infected with soybean rust): AlfRibeiro –

Place of invention

BASF Aktiengesellschaft, Carl-Bosch-Straße 38, 67063 Ludwigshafen am Rhein