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Tomato Speck Genome Offers Ripe Fruit for Pathogen Pickers

NEW YORK, Aug. 19 (GenomeWeb News) - The Pseudomonas syringae is not just a speck, in the view of pathogen researchers.


This organism, commonly known as the tomato speck, produces black lesions on the leaves of tomato plants, and has caused significant losses in Florida tomato crops. While pesticides and genetically engineered tomatoes have been designed to fight this disease, the organism has quickly developed resistance to these means of defense.


So when the sequence of the P. syringae genome was published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of  Science, researchers said it offers a path forward toward more effective means to repress this and other plant pathogens through the identification of genomic weak points to target.


"Pseudomonas syringae has become a premier model for studying plant diseases," Alan Collmer, a professor of plant pathology at Cornell and the lead investigator on the project, said in a statement. "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."


The sequence of P. syringae will also provide comparative genomic fodder for those studying a related bacterium, P. aeruginosa, which leads to fatal lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis, Collmer said.


The organism's genome includes genes for over 35 injected-virulence proteins-more virulence genes than any other known pathogen, the researchers said.


C. Robin Buell, of the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., directed the sequencing effort, which was funded by the NSF plant genome research program. Other researchers involved included Collmer, James Alfano, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Arun Chatterjee of the University of Missouri; Terrence Delaney and Sondra Lazarowitz, of Cornell; and Xiaoyan Tang of Kansas State University. Samuel Cartinhour of Cornell's theory center, and David Schneider of the USDA's agricultural research service, collaborated on the computational biology to analyze the genome.

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