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Food Security

Drug-resistant diseases that jump from plants to humans

The current coronavirus pandemic shows how unprepared humans are in fighting pathogens that originate in wildlife and jump to humans. Human immune systems are equally unprepared for drug-resistant diseases that jump from plants to humans. Drug-resistant fungal diseases are emerging as a major health threat, including Candida auris—a highly infectious fungus. Fungi are continually mutating, and with a very short life cycle measured in days or weeks, they mutate quickly. 

One theory for Candida auris emergence is that the overuse of fungicides killed off all of its competitors, causing C. auris to undergo explosive growth.

The current pandemic offers a clear message that we must be better in mitigating the risks associated with infections. One of the solutions in plants, could be gene editing, that can play a vital role in preventing pathogens from developing the drug resistance. Advances in genetics have given us an understanding of nature’s gene editing process in plants, helping us develop resistance to a disease.

Read more at ScientificAmerican

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