Fungus Found to Stop Skunk Spray Stink

Scientists believe they uncovered a fungus capable of knocking out those noxious fumes.

Ask any dog owner whose pooch has gotten a little too close to a skunk how to get rid of that smell and you’ll hear all sorts of home made remedies, from bathing them in tomato juice to combining hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap. Now, however, scientists believe they uncovered a fungus capable of knocking out those noxious fumes.


Called pericosine, this chemical is produced by a type of Tolypocladium fungi and reacts with skunk spray’s sulfur-containing compounds to not only neutralize the smell, but to also make it more easy to wash away, Science News reports


“We’ve never seen...a form of chemical defense like this,” Robert Cichewicz, a natural products and drug discovery researcher at the University of Oklahoma, said. 


The team first stumbled upon this possible solution when growing the Tolypocladium fungus together with a different fungal species. They noted that the Tolypocladium produced pericosine, which reacted with potentially harmful chemicals produced by the second fungus. To test whether or not pericosine could combat other smells, the team mixed it with skunk spray essence and found that it did, in fact, neutralize the smell. In addition, they also found that this may be both a more effective and less harsh option than the current “de-skunking” methods used currently. 


“We have laid the foundation for how one would go about using it, and have provided an initial assessment of its safety,” Cichewicz said. “We are looking forward to see how it could be used commercially.”


Read more about the study here