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Disease Roundup

October 6, 2006

Scientists are looking at germs’ genes to find their weaknesses.


Learning how pathogens kill. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update

In the journal Science, researchers published the genetic sequence of two plant pathogens, one that kills soy beans and the other oak trees. The research suggests that the microbes are descended from benign, algae-like organisms that turned parasitic. The group found relatively recent genes that allow the pathogens to break down cell walls and infect plants. Understanding the genes and how they work could lead to new ways to combat these and other plant killers.

In other news, researchers report in the journal Molecular Cell that they’ve discovered two key enzymes that allow many disease-causing bacteria to grow and divide. They hope to develop new drugs that knock out these enzymes and kill the bugs.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.