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Viruses evolve to prevent bacterial hosts from committing suicide

Viruses evolve to prevent bacterial hosts from committing suicide

Pectobacterium atrosepticum (credit AJ Cann)

 

George Salmond's group and their collaborators have just published a paper Viral Evasion of a Bacterial Suicide System by RNA-Based Molecular Mimicry Enables Infectious Altruism. They have found that a strain of the potato soft rot and blackleg bacterium Pectobacterium atrosepticum has evolved to commit suicide in the presence of certain viral parasites, known as bacteriophages, to limit the spread of viral infection in the wider bacterial population. The virus, however, has evolved a mechanism to stop the suicide. A full story is on the University web site. See also Le Monde.