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Scientists are a step closer to tackling two plant pathogens that severely damage crops following the sequencing of the genomes of two strains of Xanthomonas bacteria.

An international consortium led by A.C. R. da Silva of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil worked on two economically important pathogens, Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri, the cause of canker on citrus fruits, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris, which causes black rot in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages.

Their research, published in the 23 May issue of Nature shows that the two pathogens share more than 80 per cent of their genes.

Comparing the two should enable researchers to work out which genes fit the bacteria to their chosen pathogenic paths, and hence lead to ways of disrupting their ability to do costly damage.

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Reference: Nature 417, 459 (2002)

Photo credit: USDA/Agricultural Research Service (

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