Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
– Augustus de Morgan

I know this isn’t a “Wow” for everyone; but, I’m completely bedazzled. The implications are incredible.

Scientists at the University of Rochester and the J. Craig Venter Institute have discovered a copy of the genome of a bacterial parasite residing inside the genome of its host species.

The research also shows that lateral gene transfer—the movement of genes between unrelated species—may happen much more frequently between bacteria and multicellular organisms than scientists previously believed, posing dramatic implications for evolution, pest, and disease control.

The results also have serious repercussions for genome-sequencing projects. Bacterial DNA is routinely discarded when scientists are assembling invertebrate genomes, yet these genes may very well be part of the organism’s genome, and might even be responsible for functioning traits.

“It didn’t seem possible at first,” says John Werren, a world-leading authority on the parasite, called Wolbachia. “This parasite has implanted itself inside the cells of 70 percent of the world’s invertebrates, coevolving with them. And now, we’ve found at least one species where the parasite’s entire or nearly entire genome has been absorbed and integrated into the host’s. The host’s genes actually hold the coding information for a completely separate species.”

Read the whole article. Kudos to the first to turn it into a movie script.



  1. bobbo says:

    That movie script would be Jurassic Park No 1?

    As I recall, they rebuilt some of the species missing dna with frog dna? And the frogs changed sex with the temperature making the “can’t exist in the wild” safety valve not work?

    No–thats totally different?

    Ok–I thought chlorophyll was actually captured from cyno-bacteria?

    No–thats totally different?

    OK–aint that wonderful intelligent design?

    Yea, that fits. Its beauootiful!!

  2. Raff says:

    And now, we’ve found at least one species where the parasite’s entire or nearly entire genome has been absorbed and integrated into the host’s. The host’s genes actually hold the coding information for a completely separate species.”

    So does that mean something could be born complete with parasites which we thought used to be foreign bodies?

  3. Phillep says:

    As I recall, some biologists think mitichondria used to be bacteria, and some type of cyano-bacteria became the chlorophile whatever’s in plants.

    But, that’s symbiosis, not the bacteria or virus changing the host’s genome. What’s described would be like a virus turning a sensible person into a Democrat.

    That explains a lot.

  4. chuck says:

    Well that explains how Rush Limbaugh evolved.

  5. Mark Derail says:

    It means THEY are among us . . . already

  6. Mister Mustard says:

    Kind of like http://tinyurl.com/3ypd8s

  7. Milo says:

    Much of history has been the discovery that things we believe are complex are really simple.

  8. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #3 – What’s described would be like a virus turning a sensible person into a Democrat.

    You spelled Republican wrong.

  9. NappyHeadedHo says:

    There are many amongst us that are living proof that the Indians fucked buffalo.

  10. Odyssey67 says:

    So much for Frankenfoods – or any other act of combining different species genes – being ‘unnatural’, or ‘against God’s will’. Apparently the Almighty set the whole process in motion from the beginning.

    I guess that also explains why these genome projects and cloning labs haven’t been struck by lightning!

    Tricky stuff, this trying to divine the thinking of an all-powerful being.

  11. Angel H. Wong says:

    “Kudos to the first to turn it into a movie script.”

    Something like this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasite_Eve

  12. Li says:

    All joking aside, this has some serious consequences for how we view the evolutionary process. It also calls into question much genetic tinkering, because it’s obvious that genes can transfer between species through a bacterial vector in addition to within that species. What happens if a dandelion picks up round up resistance, for instance?

  13. Cursor_ says:

    It means Lucas is right… there ARE midiclorans and we CAN be jedi or sith!

    I’m going for Sith baby! I look great in black.

    Cursor_

  14. Phillep says:

    An old SF book, “The Chosen”.

    Dorky utopian plot.

    Movies? Seems I remember some budget monster movies from the 40’s and 50’s.


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