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    Re: Cause of Potato Famine & Why Its Coming Back

    Posted by Deborah on 12/28/09

    sorry, I realize that might be over your head, I just thought
    you'd realize it and have enough sense to let someone else respond...

    Oh, maybe you were responding to Sharon's post rather than mine?

    Hey, how did that FEMA trailer suit work out?

    On 12/28/09, Mike B. wrote:
    > do you make the leap to the conclusion that the
    > potato famine is coming back?
    > On 12/27/09, Deborah wrote:
    >> Malaria, potato famine pathogen share surprising trait
    > pathogen-share-surprising-trait
    >> On 12/27/09, Sharon wrote:
    >>> .html
    >>> (NaturalNews) Researchers have sequenced the genome of the
    >>> fungus responsible for the Great Irish Potato Famine in the
    >>> 1800s, uncovering the reason that the organism continues to
    >>> plague potato farmers to this day.
    >>> "This pathogen has an exquisite ability to adapt and
    >>> change, and that's what makes it so dangerous," said lead
    >>> researcher Chad Nusbaum of the Broad Institute in
    >>> Cambridge, Mass.
    >>> The organism, known as Phytophthora infestans, is a type of
    >>> water mold that continues to cost potato farmers billions
    >>> of dollars every year. It prefers cool, wet climates and is
    >>> capable of destroying entire fields of potatoes and
    >>> tomatoes within only a few days. In 2003, P. infestans
    >>> destroyed Papua New Guinea's entire potato crop.
    >>> The mold evolves resistance to antifungal sprays with
    >>> astonishing speed. In just the last few years, potato
    >>> farmers in the United Kingdom have increased chemical
    >>> spraying by 30 percent in an attempt to hold the organism
    >>> at bay, and the ongoing blight in Ireland has been
    >>> called "the worst in living memory," according to the BBC.
    >>> According to information published in the journal Nature,
    >>> P. infestans' genome is especially large, at least twice as
    >>> long as the genetic code of its closest relatives. Some
    >>> regions of the genome are particularly dense, containing
    >>> many genes in a small area, while others are much less
    >>> dense. It is these gene-light areas that may hold the key
    >>> to the organism's adaptability: more than 700 key genes
    >>> were mapped in these regions, some of them coding for
    >>> attacks on potatoes' immune systems.
    >>> "The regions change rapidly over time, acting as a kind of
    >>> incubator to enable the rapid birth and death of genes that
    >>> are key to plant infection," said co-lead author Brian
    >>> Haas. "As a result, these critical genes may be gained and
    >>> lost so rapidly that the hosts simply can't keep up."
    >>> Modern agriculture has exacerbated the problem, said Paul
    >>> Birch of the Scottish Crop Research Institute. Widespread
    >>> application of chemicals encourages pest evolution, while
    >>> genetic standardization of food crops makes them more
    >>> vulnerable to infestation.

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