Candida albicans is a fungal species causing infection in humans. A team of scientists decided to sequence and analyze the genomes of 182 strains of C. albicans from around the world. They confirmed the clonal reproduction of this human pathogen but also showed that parasexual reproduction, previously only observed in a laboratory setting, contributes to the genetic diversity of C. albicans and therefore also to its ability to adapt to new environments and rid itself of deleterious mutations.
Genomic analysis suggests that asexual reproduction is the rule among individuals of the species Trichophyton rubrum. The authors believe that this factor should be considered in drug development.
Using systems biology, researchers successfully identified previously unknown protein targets of plant pathogens in the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana, employing some of the same methods used to analyze social networks or biological networks. Their theoretical framework, they say, could help analyze other interactions between species to reveal pathogen contact points.
Pollution is changing the fungi that provide mineral nutrients to tree roots, which could explain malnutrition trends in Europe's trees.
Researchers at Oregon State University are looking at a highly durable organic pigment, used by humans in artwork for hundreds of years, as a promising possibility as a semiconductor material.
Biosecurity measures can effectively curb the rate of invasive plant pathogen introductions, even as trade and travel increase, according to a study publishing on May 31 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. The article is authored by Benjamin Sikes, now at the University of Kansas, and is a collaborative project between New Zealand's Bio-Protection Research Centre and Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research.
Zombie ants clamp on to aerial vegetation and hang for months spewing the spores of their parasitic fungi, but researchers noticed that they do not always clamp on to the same part of the plant. Now the researchers know that the choice of leaves or twigs is related to climate and that climate change forced the fungi to adapt to local conditions.
In the soils of the world's cereal fields, a family tussle between related species of fungi is underway for control of the crops' roots, with food security on the line. Beneficial fungi can help plants to protect themselves from cousins eager to overwhelm the roots, but it's a closely fought battle. Working out the right conditions to support those beneficial fungi and identifying the cereal varieties that are best suited to make the most of that help is no mean task.
Growing levels of resistance to antifungal treatments could lead to increased disease outbreaks and affect food security around the world.
In the battle between plants and pathogens, molecules called small RNAs are coveted weapons used by both invaders and defenders. In a paper publishing Thursday (May 17) in the journal Science, researchers at the University of California, Riverside report how plants package and deliver the sRNAs they use to fight back against plant pathogens. The study focused on Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that causes a grey mold disease in strawberries, tomatoes, and almost all fruits, vegetables, and many flowers.