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Web Date: November 21, 2017

Beetles get by with a little help from their friends

Symbiotic bacteria with stripped-down genomes break up plant cell walls for their hosts
Department: Science & Technology

In a remarkable display of teamwork, bacteria living inside the gut of the tortoise leaf beetle supply vital enzymes so that their host can digest leaves (Cell 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.10.029).

The beetle (Cassida rubiginosa) cannot make the enzymes that break down the two principal forms of pectin, a tough polysaccharide found in the cell walls of plants. Fortunately, it has an assistant: a bacterium named . . .

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Chemical & Engineering News
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