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How Symbiotic Streptomyces Evolved to Decompose Cellulose

Although cellulose is the most abundant terrestrial source of carbon, few organisms have evolved the ability to break it down. Adam J Book et al. investigate the diversity and evolution of cellulolytic ability in the ubiquitous bacterial genus Streptomyces, finding that high cellulolytic ability evolved in select lineages through key changes in gene content and transcriptional regulation. This image shows leaf-cutter ants (Atta cephalotes), one of the many eukaryotic host species found to harbor cellulolytic Streptomyces.

Image Credit: Don Parsons