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Microbe Collections Accelerate Discoveries

Contact lens wearers may remember headlines from a few years ago about molds that can live on the lenses and may cause debilitating eye infections.

What lens users may not have known: Agricultural Research Service (ARS) experts at the agency's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., did the detective work necessary to precisely identify the Fusarium molds responsible for what was then a newly emerging medical problem worldwide.

The researchers derived the correct identification by working with a database of distinctive Fusarium genetic material. The database can be used to reliably differentiate among the many Fusarium species that cause disease in plants and in humans.

In turn, this handy database owes part of its origin to the exemplary collection of hundreds of Fusarium species housed at Peoria as part of the ARS Culture Collection.
 
 

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