RESOURCES: Breaking the Mold

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Science  30 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5671, pp. 657
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5671.657d

The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus isn't your typically fuzzy, harmless mold. It picks on patients with AIDS, cystic fibrosis, and asthma and can incite potentially lethal illness by bedding down in the lungs, brain, or other organs. Aimed at scientists, doctors, and patients, The Aspergillus Website from the University of Manchester, U.K., teems with information about the formidable fungus and its kin.

Taxonomic accounts describe A. fumigatus and more than 30 other species. Researchers can browse a database of toxins produced by Aspergillus varieties or follow lab protocols for tending cultures, testing drug susceptibility, and other procedures. Scientists haven't quite finished sequencing the genome of A. fumigatus, but the site offers a roster of known genes and their functions. Visitors can download slide shows on the mold's biology and control or watch videos of fungal filaments growing and tangling with immune cells. Galleries supply species portraits and other images such as the one above, in which glowing proteins mark cell nuclei in a filament of A. nidulans. Accessing some sections requires free registration.

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