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Checkbiotech: How nature makes transgenic plants
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: November 12, 2004 08:53AM ;

Plant parasitism has been confirmed to swap genes between species, showing
how nature created transgenic plants long before humans, November 2004.

US researchers from Indiana University in Bloomington say that their
finding establishes plant parasitism as the first known medium for plant
horizontal gene transfer, the exchange of genes between different species.

"Plant parasitism has emerged as the first solid mechanism of horizontal
transfer in plants," says researcher Jeff Mower. "Other mechanisms also are
likely to be important but, as of yet, they remain in the realm of

Horizontal transfer

In July, US researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC reported in the journal Science
that genes can move from plant hosts to plant parasites.

Mower and colleagues have now reported movement in the other direction: Gene
transfer from plant parasites to plant hosts.

The researchers found that three species of Plantago, commonly known as
plantains, have a normal functioning copy of the mitochondrial gene atp1 and
a second defective copy.

This second copy resembles the atp1 gene in parasitic plants called dodders,
of the genus Cuscuta. Dodders have no chlorophyll, so must find hosts or
die. They sprout long stems that twine around host stems and send in roots.
In attacking plants in this way, dodders penetrate their host's cells,
enabling DNA to be transferred.


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