Irish potato famine mystery finally solved, 168 years later

// May 22nd, 2013 // General Science News


Potato farmers

Scientists believe that they have finally solved the question of what caused the Irish potato famine which destroyed potato crops in Ireland causing the deaths of millions of people. A research team from Norwich, England, used dried leaf cuttings, some of which were nearly 170 years old, to reconstruct the spread of the HERB-1 strain of Phytophthora infestans, a fungal disease that came to Ireland via Mexico in 1845. Using DNA sequencing techniques, the researchers decoded the genome of the plant pathogen and compared it to modern strains. This allowed them to identify where it emerged and how it spread.

It was originally theorized that the US-1 strain of fungal disease caused the massive destruction of potatoes in Ireland. Now scientists believe the US-1 strain crowded out the devastating HERB-1 variant and became the dominant form partly helped along by changes in crop breeding methods.

Geek wear at Ivy and Pearl Boutique

« « Previous Article: Which direction is this train traveling? Optical illusion roars through Internet     » » Next Article: Believe it or not – this intricate rose flower is thinner than a strand of human hair

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

%d bloggers like this: