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Lifestyles

Researchers now may be better equipped to help cotton farmers battle blight

BY KATHLEEN PHILLIPS
TEXAS A&M AGRILIFE
COMMUNICATIONS

COLLEGE STATION — Researchers have figured out how a once-defeated bacterium has re-emerged to infect cotton in a battle that could sour much of the Texas and U.S. crop. And it boils down to this: A smart bacteria with a sweet tooth.

“It’s a food fight between the bacterium and the cotton plant,” said Dr. Libo Shan, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist in College Station. “The bacterium tricks the host to produce food for itself. But once the bacterium is in the plant, it saves its own resources and switches the plant’s transportation of sugar to itself. The host plant is deprived of sugar needed for energy, can’t get rid of the bacteria and the disease
progresses. This bacterium is very smart.” The discovery is in the May 24 edition of the journal Nature Communications.

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