Science: Sick Beans and Healthy People

What may be a big episode in the fantastic serial story of the sulfa-drugs appeared in the Journal of Heredity last week. Though doctors can cure a growing list of bacterial diseases—pneumonia, meningitis, streptococcic infections, erysipelas, childbed fever, gonorrhea, etc.—with sulfanilamide and other sulfa compounds, they have little biochemical understanding of how the drugs work. Plant Physiologist Hamilton Paul Traub of the U.S. Horticultural Station (at Beltsville, Md.) added to that little knowledge by discovering that these beneficent drugs, when used on normal plants, make them stunted, freakish, wrinkled.

Plantman Traub treated kidney beans by: 1) soaking the seeds before planting in...

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