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posted by chromas on Tuesday June 08, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the covfefid21 dept.

Imperial College London:

Coffee Wilt Disease is caused by a fungus that has led to devastating outbreaks since the 1920s in sub-Saharan Africa, and currently affects two of Africa’s most popular coffee varieties: Arabica and Robusta.

The new research shows that the fungus likely boosted its ability to infect coffee plants by acquiring genes from a closely related fungus, which causes wilt disease on a wide range of crops, including Panama disease in bananas.

[...] The team re-animated cryogenically frozen samples of the fungus that causes Coffee Wilt Disease. There have been two serious outbreaks of the disease, in the 1920s-1950s and between the 1990s-2000s, and it still causes damage. For example, in 2011, 55,000 Robusta coffee trees were killed by wilt in Tanzania, destroying 160T of coffee in the process – equivalent to over 22 million cups of coffee.

[...] In a secure lab at CABI, they re-awakened two strains from the original outbreak, collected in the 1950s and deposited into CABI’s collection, and two strains each from the two coffee-specific fungal strains, with the most recent from 2003. They then sequenced the genomes of the fungi and examined their DNA for evidence of changes that could have helped them infect these specific coffee varieties.

They discovered the newer, variety-specific fungi have larger genomes than the earlier strains, and they identified genes that could have helped the fungi overcome plants’ defences and survive within the plants to trigger disease.

These genes were also found to be highly similar to those found in a different, closely related fungus that affects over 120 different crops, including bananas in sub-Saharan Africa, causing Panama disease, which is currently devastating today’s most popular variety, the Cavendish banana.

While strains of this banana-infecting fungus are known to be able to swap genes, conferring the ability to infect new varieties, the potential transfer of their genes to a different species of fungi has not been seen before. However, the team note that the two species sometimes live in close proximity on the roots of coffee and banana plants, and so it is possible that the coffee fungus gained these advantageous genes from its normally banana-based neighbour.

Coffee and bananas are often grown together, as coffee plants like the shade provided by the taller banana plants. The researchers say their study could suggest not growing crops with closely related diseases together, like banana and coffee, could reduce the possibility of new strains of coffee-killing fungi evolving.

The researchers are now using the re-animated strains to infect coffee plants in the lab, in order to study exactly how the fungus infects the plant, potentially providing other ways to prevent the disease taking hold.

nothing like COVID gain of function research

Journal Reference:
D. Peck, R. W. Nowell, J. Flood, et al. Historical genomics reveals the evolutionary mechanisms behind multiple outbreaks of the host-specific coffee wilt pathogen Fusarium xylarioides, bioRxiv (DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.07.241695)


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @05:19AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @05:19AM (#1143041)

    Hope they didn't hire anyone from Wuhan.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @05:37AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @05:37AM (#1143043)

      Was going to say, this sounds like a covert Wuhan racist lab origin Fox News inspired sub from our local arms dealer, Runaway1956. Oh, wait, it is!

      Fortunately, the admins have dropped attribution from the IRC subs, so we will no longer be able to spot a Runaway sub by attribution, and will have to, as in this case, use common sense. Go back to Brietbarf, Runaway!

      • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Tuesday June 08, @05:54AM (3 children)

        by coolgopher (1157) on Tuesday June 08, @05:54AM (#1143047)

        Uh, right at the top it says "upstart writes in with an IRC submission for Runaway1956" (emphasis added). You might want to consider getting some (new) glasses, AC

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @06:02AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @06:02AM (#1143050)

          You might want to consider taking a look at the queue after this particular sub, oh wise and felicitious Soylentil. Runaway started posting on IRC to allegedly counter the progressive forces who did the same, and has of late been whining in IRC about others doing the same under nicks that illiterates and dyslexics might confuse with his. The problem as been resolved by dropping nicks from IRC submissions completely. Mission Accomplished? But, Runaway will be "re-instated" in August.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @03:22PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @03:22PM (#1143158)

            It must be noted that certain members of SN are unable to voice an opinion on the subject matter. Instead, they dive into ad hominem attacks on the submitter. Their mamas must be proud of them.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @07:40PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @07:40PM (#1143255)

              It is not an ad hominem when the credibility of the submission hinges on the derangement of the submitter, and the talking points of Hannity and Fox News. Or are we seriously concerned with Coffee Wilt Disease? I live in a coffee producing country, and it sounds like this is more about gene-splicing, labs, and COVID-19.

      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @03:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @03:53PM (#1143171)

        Runaway will blame this on The Tea Party.

    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Tuesday June 08, @01:55PM

      by Gaaark (41) on Tuesday June 08, @01:55PM (#1143120) Journal

      Covid-Z: Kills you slowly by not letting you sleep.

      Don't come knockin' if this bed is rockin'.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 2) by DECbot on Tuesday June 08, @06:05AM

    by DECbot (832) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 08, @06:05AM (#1143051) Journal

    This is how civilization will come to an end. The spice must flow...

    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java the thoughts acquire speed, The hands acquire shaking, The shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

    --
    cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday June 08, @02:02PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 08, @02:02PM (#1143123) Journal

    I think the Coke company would love to have a fungus that destroys a drink which competes with their caffeinated soft drinks.

    --
    I'm trying to find a face mask made of asbestos on eBay, but no luck.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @03:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @03:40PM (#1143554)

      How many people would drink more coke if there wasn't any coffee?

      Coke wouldn't even be a consideration for me.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @05:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @05:53PM (#1143222)

    Whoopsy-daisy! Now, where did I put that fungus?

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