Thursday, August 30, 2007

The bacterial invader that rewrites genes - Times Online

The bacterial invader that rewrites genes - Times Online: "The world’s most successful bacterial parasite has effectively become a part of at least 11 different animals by writing its entire genetic code into theirs, according to research that sheds important light on evolution. Scientists have discovered copies of the genome of the Wolbachia bacterium lurking within the genetic code of fruit flies, wasps and nematode worms. So ingrained are the bacteria’s genes that they appear to have biological roles within the host animal. The findings have important implications for evolution, as they show that genes can transfer from bacteria to unrelated multicellular organisms and take on new functions much more readily than was previously supposed."