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Leading bacterial pathogen is sequenced

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The complete genome sequence of a leading bacterial plant pathogen offers new ways to stave off agricultural loss and perhaps foil animal or human infection, says a Cornell University researcher.

According to Alan Collmer, Cornell professor of plant pathology, the sequencing (that is, determining the base sequence of each of the ordered DNA fragments in the genome) could help farmers repress tomato speck and other plant diseases. Medical researchers could be aided in comparing a related bacterium that causes fatal lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. And environmentalists could be provided with a new tool in understanding how another related bacterium can live in soil and dine on toxic waste.

The sequencing of Pseudomonas syringae (strain DC3000) is reported on the Web today (Aug. 18) by scientists from Cornell and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS Online Early Edition).

The P. syringae genome will be particularly helpful to scientists studying P. aeruginosa , a bacterial cousin blamed for chronic and fatal lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients and acute infections of cancer and burn patients, says Collmer, who is principal investigator on the project. Comparisons of the genomes, he says, will help researchers understand how these bacteria have adapted to their hosts and could reveal weak points to target with new therapies.

"Understanding this genome connects us to a larger world of bacterial pathogens," says Collmer. "Pseudomonas syringae (pronounced soo-dough-MOAN-iss seer-INN-gee) has become a premier model for studying plant diseases. The genome reveals how complex the jigsaw puzzle of pathogenesis is. It puts all of the pieces on the table, it shows us that many parts of the puzzle are the same for plant and animal pathogens, and it enables scientists to put the pieces together more efficiently."

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Contact: Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.
bpf2@cornell.edu
607-255-3290
Cornell University News Service
15-Aug-2003


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