The first evidence of the evolutionary process within networks of plant proteins has been captured by an international team of scientists.
The investigators use their new map of these networks to uncover how microbes like bacteria and fungi undermine plants' defences against disease.
The microbes accomplish this by disrupting a relatively small set of "virtuoso" proteins that play a variety of different roles within the cell.
Together, these findings promise not only to propel crop-improvement and anti-blight efforts, but also - because human diseases involve disturbances in protein networks as well - increase the understanding of a variety of human health disorders, including cancer, the authors stated.
"Although these papers focus on the interactions of proteins in plants, they have implications for what occurs in animal - and human - cells as well," said Pascal Braun, PhD, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Systems Biology, who had a leading role in both studies.
The study appeared in the July 29 issue of Science.