A separate article by Carina Barth and her former group at West Virginia University (Barth is now with ConRuhr North America) has been published at the same time on F1000Research, and may go some way to supporting Lolle's findings, although the referees were more mixed in their reaction to this study. In their article "The novel Arabidopsis thaliana svt2 suppressor of the ascorbic acid-deficient mutant vtc1-1 exhibits phenotypic and genotypic instability", Barth et al. attempted to isolate Arabidopsis plants that could in some way compensate for a diminished capacity to synthesize vitamin C in order to better understand the genetic regulation of this process in those plants that do perform the function. They found that a number of their plants compensated by apparently reverting back to an ancestral genome containing the trait responsible for successful biosynthesis of vitamin C, even though they had been bred from plants with a defect in this trait. They conclude that this kind of genetic instability could be explained by hidden information somewhere in the organism's genome, perhaps even Lolle's RNA cache theory.
These papers could have significant implications for plant biology, genetics and agriculture. If confirmed, the findings will completely alter our understanding of how organisms inherit their genes. In addition, the findings could have practical implications for the future. These theories could be adapted to help us better understand how plants (and crops) cope with environmental stress, with relevance to global warming, the moving crop belts and global food security.
|Contact: Eleanor Howell|
Faculty of 1000: Biology and Medicine