Scientists Find Pathogen Behind Irish Potato Famine (Discover)

Inside eLife
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By Gemma Tarlach

Playing out like a mash-up ofCold CaseandCSI:Botanical Gardens, scientists have identified the guilty party—and exonerated previous suspects—in a mass murder. Of potatoes.

A single strain of the fungus-likePhytophthora infestanscaused the potato blight that killed roughly a million people during Ireland’s Great Famine in the mid-19th century. A study published today ineLifehas proven for the first time, however, which of the many varieties ofP. infestansis the culprit, and found that it is distinct from modern strains of potato blight.

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