Note in Science page
Created Sep 04 07, Updated Oct 29 07 17:34
Genome parasite go to comments

Scientists at the University of Rochester and the J. Craig Venter Institute have discovered a copy of the entire genome of a bacterial parasiteWolbachiainside the genome of its insectsDrosophila ananassaehost. The parasitic bacteria live inside its hosts’ cells, including the germ cells that give rise to eggs.


Wolbachia (red) inside fruit fly cells (DNA in green) – microbiology.ucsc.edu

The team found Wolbachia sequences in three wasp and four worm species genomes. Resequencing DNA from the tropical fruit fly Drosophila ananassae, the team discovered that the insect was carrying nearly the entire Wolbachia genome of more than 1 million DNA base pairs on one of its chromosomes. Most of the DNA appears to be nonfunctional, but the researchers found RNA transcripts from 30 Wolbachia genes!

The finding, suggests that lateral gene transfer – the movement of genes between unrelated species – might be much more widespread than previously thought and has serious repercussions for genome-sequencing projects; Bacterial DNA sequences are routinely discarded when (invertebrate) eukaryote genomes are assembled, yet these genes may indeed be part of the organism’s genome, and might even be responsible for functioning traits.

This study establishes the widespread occurrence and high frequency of a process that we would have dismissed as science fiction until just a few years ago.
W. Ford Doolittle – www.sciencedaily.com interview

Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes – Science article abstract

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