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Beans' Defenses Mean Bacteria Get Evolutionary Helping Hand

Bean plants' natural defences against bacterial infections could be unwittingly driving the evolution of more highly pathogenic bacteria, according to new research published September 10 in Current Biology.

The study sheds new light on how bacterial pathogens evolve and adapt to stresses from host plants. This information could help researchers develop new ways of tackling pathogens that cause extensive and costly damage to beans and other food crops.

The scientists from Imperial College London and the University of the West of England (UWE) focused on a bacterial pathogen called Pseudamonas syringae, which causes a disease called halo blight, in bean plants. Symptoms include brown spots on the leaves, surrounded by a yellow halo. The disease can cause bean plants to lose their leaves, wilt and die, and is a serious problem for farmers worldwide.

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