Natural GMOs Part 79. It’s not surprising to find, yet again, that genes move around a lot in the ocean

posted in: Syndicated | 2

Genetic escape pods
Microbes share and preserve their genetic material by releasing bodies that resemble viruses into the environment

[Published 1st October 2010 02:49 PM GMT at The Scientist]

Packaging random snippets of DNA into virus-like capsules known as gene transfer agents, or GTAs, may be a key way for marine bacteria to exchange genetic information, a new paper in Science suggests.

While this gene-swapping mechanism has been known for decades, the extent to which GTAs were relevant to microbes in the real world was unclear, having been observed in a limited number of species and almost exclusively inside microbiology labs.

But a team of researchers, headed by University of South Florida marine microbiologist John Paul, demonstrated that GTAs isolated from lab-grown bacteria conferred antibiotic resistance to a wide range of microbes naturally growing in the warm waters of the Gulf Coast, and at a much higher rate than expected.(More at link)

Original article
L.D. McDaniel, et al., “High frequency of horizontal gene transfer in the Oceans,” Science, 330:50, 2010.

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David Tribe is an applied geneticist, teaching graduate/undergrad courses in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology at the University of Melbourne.