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Coffee Pest Gene Transfer
An insect that plagues coffee plants likely got its bean-digesting gene from a bacterium.
Horizontal or lateral gene transfers—the swap of genetic material between different species—are relatively rare in animals and, when they are identified, they frequently have unknown ecological significance. Research published online today (February 27) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a coffee-devouring insect pest has a bacterial gene embedded in its DNA that encodes a coffee-digesting protein.
“What’s novel in this case is a bacterial gene going into the insect that actually allows the insect to feed off of a new food source,” said Julie Dunning Hotopp, a genomicist who studies lateral gene transfer at the University of Maryland and was not involved in the research. “It’s a gene that’s been transferred and it’s functional.”
I think we already knew that genes can be transferred across species.
They used a gene from a fish to make potatoes glow when they needed to be watered.
The question is, how far can we take it?
Viruses are carrying RNA transfers between linked species for communication about environmental changes, and audit controls.
Bacteria and fungus are performing a similar function with genetic exchange.
The rampant overuse of anitbiotics and vaccinations takes on a whole new meaning when you see that.