When it comes to cotton, it's usually the plants' soft, downy fibers that are the focus of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. But right now, what's getting their attention is a powerful compound extracted from the plants' roots. It has the potential to snuff out costly farm pests and diseases and perhaps even to guard against human cancers.

Called gossypol, the compound is found throughout the cotton plant, in its leaves, seeds and stems. potent. With its only apparent weakness being sensitivity to sunlight, the intensely yellow compound is showing impressive antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer effects. Read more about this in Agricultural Research magazine at: http://www.ars.usda.gov