Skip to comments.'Whodunnit' of Irish Potato Famine Solved
Posted on 05/21/2013 12:25:13 PM PDT by neverdem
An international team of scientists reveals that a unique strain of potato blight they call HERB-1 triggered the Irish potato famine of the mid-nineteenth century.
It is the first time scientists have decoded the genome of a plant pathogen and its plant host from dried herbarium samples. This opens up a new area of research to understand how pathogens evolve and how human activity impacts the spread of plant disease.
Phytophthora infestans changed the course of history. Even today, the Irish population has still not recovered to pre-famine levels. "We have finally discovered the identity of the exact strain that caused all this havoc," says Hernán Burbano from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology.
For research to be published in eLife, a team of molecular biologists from Europe and the US reconstructed the spread of the potato blight pathogen from dried plants. Although these were 170 to 120 years old, they were found to have many intact pieces of DNA.
"Herbaria represent a rich and untapped source from which we can learn a tremendous amount about the historical distribution of plants and their pests -- and also about the history of the people who grew these plants," according to Kentaro Yoshida from The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich.
The researchers examined the historical spread of the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans, known as the Irish potato famine pathogen. A strain called US-1 was long thought to have been the cause of the fatal outbreak. The current study concludes that a strain new to science was responsible. While more closely related to the US-1 strain than to other modern strains, it is unique. "Both strains seem to have separated from each other only years before the first major outbreak in Europe," says Burbano.
The researchers compared the historic samples with modern strains...
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...
If someone wants to start The Old Sod ping list, you can put me on it. My ancestors had to dead with "An Gorta Mór the Great Hunger in the Irish language."
I question that statement. Of course the population has recovered -- they just live outside of Ireland. My great grandfather left 13 children when he died and countless descendants in subsequent years.
Herb just wanted to be a dentist.
I blame George Bush
That is true. Thank God for the Irish diaspora: phenomenal music and red-headed girls
FReepmail me if you want on or off my combined microbiology/immunology ping list.
The Irish have come a long way from the potato.
Now the capital of Ireland is Boston and they eat baked beans.
Last I heard, Tax-chick was running an Ireland list.
Probably not a good idea then to bring a plant which is native to the higher elevations of the Andes, and which is highly susceptible to fungi, to an island where it rains nearly every day and then become 100% dependent upon it as a foodstuff.
This event is what brought the Irish part of my ancestry to this continent.
How much Irish migration was due to the potato famine, and how much was due to British brutality? My great-grandparents, who left Ireland in the 1880’s, said they left because of British oppression. In those days, the British shot Irish for any reason whatever, including being caught worshiping at Mass. They also stole very freely from the Irish.
Tuber or not tuber.
Phytophthora infestans, AKA Late Blight.
I usually grow my tomatoes and potatoes in my back yard.
Last year, both were going gangbusters - but when the weather really got nice and warm, my WHOLE tomato crop was wiped out. Plants were literally falling over and practically dying overnight.
It was Late Blight.
I must have had a good strain of potatoes, because they were unaffected!
This year I decided to separate my Solanum species, most of the tomatoes got moved to a different spot.
My warning to other gardeners is if you see even the slightest signs of it, either destroy the affected plants, or take a fungicidal approach. A baking soda solution or potassium bicarbonate solution does a good job, but you have to get it before it starts spreading!
I think even IF the potato famine did not occur, there would have been a huge exodus of people from Ireland anyway because the British rule made it nearly impossible for the Irish to economically advance. They probably would have left about the same time many Eastern European Jews left for the USA. Indeed, economic opportunity and the effect of several major wars in Europe between 1600 and 1900 drive a huge number Europeans to what was first the American colonies, then the USA.
I suppose it all depends on whom you're rooting for.
babble-on~:” Thank God for the Irish diaspora: phenomenal music and red-headed girls ‘
I think that most of the re-headed girls trace their lineage to “ Eric The Red “ , a Viking and his 14 wives.
The red-head is still a recessive gene.
For Music , Irish style dance and the uilleann pipes (Irish/Celtic bagpipes) which are generally played sitting down.
All my children have red hair , and are fair complected , so every summer , I heavily invest in sunscreen
If the potato hadn’t come to Europe the subsequent development wouldn’t have been possible because the population couldn’t have been supported by the cultivation of grains alone.
The Irish used cuttings and grew a very narrow range of potato types. The Andean Indians grew >2500 types and used seeds.
Ireland could have never supported the population it had with any other crop. My ancestors would have then had to leave much earlier.
You will like the movie, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.
It portrays British brutality against the Irish.
RayChuang88 ~:” I think even IF the potato famine did not occur, there would have been a huge exodus of people from Ireland anyway because the British rule made it nearly impossible for the Irish to economically advance.”
British rule was ( and is ) resented by most Irish descendants , even to this day.
This also is why the IRA (Irish Republican Army) recieved so much support in the homeland as well as in the USA.
In many an Irish household , the vernacular term which referred to English control as the “ Bloodey Brits “.
Even the Nazis tried to appeal to Irish independance and ancient resentments by providing money and arms to the IRA,
in an attempt to force the British fighting on the War Front, as well as guerilla warfare (IRA) at home .
Even “An Gorta Mor” (The Irish Great Famine) was blamed on the Brits , since the English preferrred one certain variety of potato
and the Irish planted this one variety when it was struck by the potato blight (think agriculture mono-culture).
Millions died , went into the ‘poor house’, and became destitute. Most died of starvation, or diseases caused by stravation.
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