herald

Monday 1 September 2014

Potato famine trigger found

SCIENTISTS have named a unique strain of blight which they believe triggered the Irish potato famine as HERB-1.

The deadly famine that ravaged Ireland in the mid-19th century has been linked to a fungal disease called potato blight, which came to Ireland from Mexico.

A team of molecular biologists from Europe and the US reconstructed the spread of the potato blight pathogen from dried plants. Many of the materials, despite being between 120 to 170 years old, contained intact pieces of DNA, according to the details published in the journal eLife.

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