Plant Pathology

Morning brew at risk

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Science  12 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6215, pp. 1339-1340
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6215.1339-c

A coffee plant pathogen is leaving a trail through South America


Coffee leaf scorch has affected yields of coffee in Brazil, the supplier of much of the world's coffee, since the 1990s. The disease is caused by Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium that clogs xylem vessels and impedes transport of water and nutrients for the plant, resulting in a degradation of the quality and yield of the coffee beans and the eventual death of the plant. Nunney et al. genotyped bacterial samples from infected plants in Costa Rica to reconstruct the pathogen's progress as it slithers from Brazil and through the Americas. Citrus groves are also at risk because substrains of this pathogen hopscotch into new domains, perhaps using homologous recombination with strains already present.

PLOS One 9, e112463 (2014).

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