Crop Biotech Update

Bacteria Take "Mug Shots" of Threatening Viruses

March 2, 2016

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Stanford University School of Medicine and two other institutions have discovered that bacteria possess a system that recognizes and disrupts dangerous viruses using a newly identified mechanism involving RNA. The discovery might lead to better ways to thwart viruses that affect agricultural crops and production of dairy products.

The team found that bacteria can snatch bits of RNA from invaders, such as viruses, and incorporate the RNA into their own genomes, using this information like mug shots. They then help the bacteria recognize and disrupt dangerous viruses in the future.

Researchers now also study how to genetically engineer a crop so that their cells would carry this virus detector. Another application could be in the dairy industry, where viruses infect the bacteria that produce cheese and yogurt, causing the process to slow down or prevent it from completion.

For more information on the study, read the article on UT News.