Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fugitive genes

18.01.2006


In the world of genetic engineering one often talks about ‘transgenic organisms’. These are organisms that have been modified by the insertion of an alien gene into their genome. Now it turns out that there are naturally occurring transgenic plants. One such instance was found by Dr Lena Ghatnekar from the research team for evolutionary genetics at Lund University in Sweden. Her findings have just been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society in London.



Sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina) is a common grass that the research team at Lund University in Sweden has studied for a long time. One of its genes codes for an enzyme called PGIC. Lena Ghatnekar discovered that the enzyme did not look the same in all sheep’s fescue plants. It turned out that certain plants had extra genes for the production of PGIC and that these genes existed at a different site in the genome than the normal PGIC genes. At first the scientists believed that it was a matter of copied genes – gene duplications – but it soon proved to be a question of fugitive genes. Lena Ghatnekar explains:

”There are always minor differences from one plant to another when it comes to complex proteins like the enzyme PGIC. Maybe a difference of up to a few percent. But in this case the difference was six percent, and that is too much for an ordinary gene duplication.”


The alien has now been identified. The gene that produces the deviant PGIC comes from another grass, namely a meadow grass (Poa). This is surprising, since the fescues and the meadow grasses are not particularly closely related.

”We don’t know how the alien gene got into sheep’s fescue. When we have located precisely where in the genome the gene is situated, it will be possible for us to make a guess. But apparently the introgression led to a variant with high fitness, making the alien gene spread to later generations. Today, there are populations of sheep’s fescue where ten per cent of the plants carry the extra gene” says the head of the research team, Professor Bengt O. Bengtsson, adding:

”This is a truly unique event. Poa and Festuca are so remote from each other that a plant breeder would never dream of trying to cross them. Perhaps the gene was inserted into Festuca via a virus that can infect both grass species. In that case it is a sort of spontaneous genetic transformation; today’s genetic engineers make use of viruses to transfer genes. Another possibility is that something very special happened during fertilization. To be sure, grasses have a ‘defence system’ that normally prevents foreign pollen from growing on their pistils, but maybe in some way a fragment of a Poa pollen hitched a ride with a regular Festuca pollen.”

Göran Frankel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.lu.se
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
21.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
21.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>