U of S battles bacterial disease in potatoes


The University of Saskatchewan says scientists are using the synchrotron to study scab disease in potatoes.

Its part of the ongoing battle against antibiotic resistant bacteria, which may prove helpful in controlling common plant diseases and other toxins.

A professor of cellular biology at the University of Guelph, Dr. Rod Merrill, is pursuing an anti-virulence strategy, finding small molecules to inhibit the tools bacteria use to colonize the host and create infection.

To validate the concept, he turned to the bacteria which causes common scab disease in vegetables like potatoes and carrots.

Potato is the most important vegetable crop in Canada and the fourth largest in the world.

Scab disease causes lesions on the vegetables, making them unsightly and not suitable for sale.

Using the University of Saskatchewan Canadian Light source, he studied a protein toxin produced by the pathogen, which is critical information in finding a small-molecule inhibitor.

However, there is still work to demonstrate the toxin inhibitors will neutralize the pathogen.

He hopes to work with agriculture specialists to make a viable project to help farmers.

He adds it could have wide reaching effect in the fight against human bacterial infections.


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