08. Plant and Human Diseases Aided by Bacterial Pathogen Sequencing

Alan R. Collmer, Plant Pathology, Cornell colleagues, and colleagues at the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) conducted the complete genome sequencing of a bacterial plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae (strain DC3000). This bacterium, which has built resistance to some methods of pesticides, causes serious losses to tomato crops. P. syringae causes bacterial speck on tomatoes and produces black lesions with a discrete yellow halo on the plant leaves, causing them to curl. Scientists can use information from the sequencing of P. syringae to study how pathogens adapt to plant defenses leading to ways to forestall agricultural loss. The P. syringae genome will also help medical researchers studying a related bacterium, P. aeruginosa, that causes fatal lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients and acute infections in cancer and burn patients. Comparing genomes helps researchers understand how these bacteria have adapted to their hosts and could reveal weak points to target with new therapies.

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