The tomato business in South Korea is thriving.
Data show the nation produces more than three-hundred-fifty-thousand tons of love apples a year.
Despite those big yields, though, experts say tomatoes are one of the most easily heavily damaged kinds of produce when farms are hit by bacterial wilt.
When infected with bacterial wilt, the plant's leaves and water transport system damaged immediately, and then the disease spreads down to the roots in the soil.
"When a plant is infected with bacterial wilt, there is simply no way to save it. The disease spreads rapidly once it makes contact, and eventually dries up and wilts the plant."
Until now, the only way to minimize the damage was to plant one of the few tomato varieties that are slightly more resistant.
But there is hope -- local researchers have recently discovered a bacteria that keeps the disease away.
Interestingly enough, this particular microbe, in almost all cases, is found in soil near the roots of tomato plants.
"Traditionally, the focus was on a plant's natural ability to protect itself from such diseases, but this discovery opens a new way of thinking. Now, we feel a need to look at what's in the soil, and how the surrounding conditions affect a plant's ability to fend off infections."
Scientists say their next mission is to find out *how the bacteria protects the plant, and ultimately find ways to use that mechanism to develop a pesticide that protects all plants from the deadly infection.
Cho Sung-min, Arirang News.