The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is heated. One of the arguments against them is that it is unnatural to mix genes from different species. However, research in Lund, Sweden, shows that genetic modification can take place naturally among wild plants.
“In our research group we have suspected this for some time, and now my colleague Pernilla Vallenback has used DNA analysis to show that this is indeed the case”, says Professor Bengt O. Bengtsson at the Department of Biology at Lund University.
The research group on evolutionary genetics has discovered that a gene for the enzyme PGIC has been transferred into sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina) from a meadow grass, probably Poa palustris, a reproductively distinct species. The DNA analyses also show that only a small part of a chromosome was transferred. This is the first proven case of the horizontal transfer of a gene with known function from the nucleus of one higher plant to another.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how the gene jump between the species occurred, which is not surprising as it took place perhaps 700 000 years ago. The most plausible explanation is that the gene was transmitted by a parasite or pathogen, such as a virus, perhaps with the help of a sap-sucking insect”, says Professor Bengtsson.
If gene jumps can occur naturally between plants belonging to different species, does this mean that there is no longer any reason to oppose genetically modified crops? According to Bengt O. Bengtsson, the answer is far from simple. He notes that the new results are interesting and important, but they do not say much about what is right or wrong in society.
“Many fear genetically modified crops because they believe that they may lead to unwanted gene spread in nature. This argument does not impress me. I sympathise, however, with the unease over the increased use of patents and monopolising practices in plant breeding. That is why it is so important that free and commercially independent research on plant genetics can be carried out in universities”, says Bengt O. Bengtsson.
The research has been published in the scientific journal PLoS One (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013529).For more information, please contact: Bengt O. Bengtsson, Lund University
Megan Grindlay | idw
Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology
Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Information Technology
19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences