The case of the killer blight


By Kurt Kleiner GENETIC fingerprinting has overturned theories about the origins of the fungus that caused the Irish potato famine in the 19th century. The work could help botanists find naturally resistant potato strains. When the fungus Phytophthora infestans appeared in Ireland in 1842, it destroyed the potato crop and caused more than a million people to starve to death. A similar fungus still causes “late blight” in potatoes, and everyone assumed that this modern strain, called 1b,
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