The 'special relationship' between the United States and Israel has endured for more than four decades and is one of the more anomalous global political alliances. Conventional explanations have consistently failed to elucidate the underlying nuances of a relationship that has endured the transition from the Cold War to the unipolar world to the present day 'war on terror' and is often costly to the USA in economic and geostrategic terms. This article argues that the nebulous but still valuable concept of political culture provides a crucial ingredient to any understanding of the special relationship. In perceiving their society to be a beacon of what they like to call 'freedom' and 'democracy,' in a world in which these values are largely absent, Americans have been encouraged to believe that they share a political kinship with societies similarly imbued and that they have an obligation to assist where such values are under threat. This process of identification is reinforced by the activities of the pro-Israel lobby and the beliefs of America's increasing number of Christian Evangelicals who support Israel for largely religious reasons. It is the many dimensions of this cultural identification that sets Israel apart from other nations and forms the bedrock of the US-Israeli special relationship.
Here we report the genome sequence of the lesion nematode, Pratylenchus coffeae, a significant pest of banana and other staple crops in tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide. Initial analysis of the 19.67 Mb genome reveals 6712 protein encoding genes, the smallest number found in a metazoan, although sufficient to make a nematode. Significantly, no developmental or physiological pathways are obviously missing when compared to the model free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which possesses approximately 21 000 genes. The highly streamlined P. coffeae genome may reveal a remarkable functional plasticity in nematode genomes and may also indicate evolutionary routes to increased specialisation in other nematode genera. In addition, the P. coffeae genome may begin to reveal the core set of genes necessary to make a multicellular animal. Nematodes exhibit striking diversity in the niches they occupy, and the sequence of P. coffeae is a tool to begin to unravel the mechanisms that enable the extraordinary success of this phylum as both free-living and parasitic forms. Unlike the sedentary endoparasitic root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.), P. coffeae is a root-lesion nematode that does not establish a feeding site within the root. Because the P. coffeae nematode genome encodes fewer than half the number of genes found in the genomes of root-knot nematodes, comparative analysis to determine genes P. coffeae does not carry may help to define development of more sophisticated forms of nematode-plant interactions. The P. coffeae genome sequence may help to define timelines related to evolution of parasitism amongst nematodes. The genome of P. coffeae is a significant new tool to understand not only nematode evolution but animal biology in general.