Navigation Links
A common aquatic animal's genome can capture foreign DNA
Date:5/29/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Long viewed as straitlaced spinsters, sexless freshwater invertebrate animals known as bdelloid rotifers may actually be far more promiscuous than anyone had imagined: Scientists at Harvard University have found that the genomes of these common creatures are chock-full of DNA from plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals.

The finding, described this week in the journal Science, could take the sex out of sexual reproduction, showing that bdelloid rotifers, all of which are female, can exchange genetic material via other means.

"Our result shows that genes can enter the genomes of bdelloid rotifers in a manner fundamentally different from that which, in other animals, results from the mating of males and females," says Matthew S. Meselson, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

In essence, Meselson and colleagues say, bdelloids may acquire DNA by habitually disintegrating their genomes -- something these unusual animals do regularly during periods of desiccation, which fractures their genetic material and ruptures cellular membranes. Miraculously, bdelloids can then spring back to life upon rehydration of their habitats, readily reconstituting their genomes and their membranes.

In the process of rebuilding their shattered DNA, though, they may adopt shreds of genetic material from other bdelloids in the same puddle, as well as from unrelated species.

Meselson and co-authors Eugene A. Gladyshev and Irina R. Arkhipova believe the findings may solve the longstanding mystery of bdelloids' sexless ways, and may shed light on their ability to adapt to new environments.

"These fascinating animals not only have relaxed the barriers to incorporation of foreign genetic material, but, more surprisingly, they even managed to keep some of these alien genes functional," says Arkhipova, a staff scientist in Harvard's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

"In principle, this gives them an opportunity to take advantage of the entire environmental metagenome, adds Gladyshev, a graduate student in molecular and cellular biology at Harvard.

While the scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact sources of the invasive DNA, they have ascertained that the foreign genes are concentrated in bdelloid telomeres, the regions at the ends of DNA thought to prevent its strands from unraveling -- much like the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace.

A next step, Meselson says, is to determine whether bdelloid genomes also contain homologous genes imported from other bdelloids. He and his colleagues also hope to examine whether the animals actually use any of the hundreds of snippets of foreign DNA they appear to vacuum up.

Nearly all other multicellular animals have strong safeguards against foreign DNA, but bdelloids' seeming embrace of genetic detritus is in keeping with their general quirkiness: Shunning sex and entirely lacking males, the ubiquitous creatures are also extraordinarily resistant to radiation, as Meselson and Gladyshev demonstrated earlier this year in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

With nearly 500 recognized species worldwide, bdelloid rotifers were discovered in 1702, when the renowned Dutch scientist and microscopy pioneer Antony van Leeuwenhoek added water to dust retrieved from a rain gutter on his house and observed the organisms in the resulting fluid. He subsequently described the creatures in a letter to Britain's Royal Society, which still counts an envelope of van Leeuwenhoek's rain-gutter dust among its holdings.


'/>"/>

Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Oregano oil works as well as synthetic insecticides to tackle common beetle pest
2. Cells lining milk ducts hold key to spread of common form of breast cancer
3. US Patent Office rejects companys claim for bean commonly grown by Latin American farmers
4. Early exposure to common weed killer impairs amphibian development
5. Largest ever study of genetics of common disease just got bigger
6. Common aquatic animals show extreme resistance to radiation
7. A common genetic mechanism discovered in nitrogen-fixing plants
8. Stakeholders use science to find common ground on wood supply from forests
9. Europes most common genetic disease is a liver disorder
10. Blue-eyed humans have a single, common ancestor
11. Disrupting common parasites ability to talk to each other reduces infection
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/19/2016)... , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for ... biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface with integration ... modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions of the ... readers into the building installations offer considerable freedom of ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal ... new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at ... heels of the deployment of its platform at several ... biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed a ... Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned to the company ... technical leadership team, including Chief Technology Officer, John ... Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of Software and Informatics, ... Dr. Bready served as CEO of Nabsys ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2016)... and LONDON , May 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... See Frontage Boost Efficiency by 40% - Frontage Implement ... - Frontage Enforce Quality, Compliance and Traceability Within the Bioanalytical lab ... labs in the United States and ... to be deployed across its laboratory facilities. In addition to serving ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 20, 2016 , ... The leading ... of its most experienced veterinary clients have treated over 100 of their own patients ... technology to provide the highest level of care for their patients. , The ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 19, 2016 , ... Anton Paar ... 30,000 square foot office building is complete. The new structure adds a third office ... Anton Paar USA purchased 2.4 acres of land, along with office space ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... DIEGO , May 19, 2016 ... (OTC PINK: RGBP) and (OTC PINK: RGBPP) announced today ... creating the first cord blood based cancer immunotherapeutic ... provisional patent application, Regen described a generation of ... was potentiated by gene silencing.  The product in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: