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One species' entire genome discovered inside another's
Date:8/30/2007

of the Human Genome Project, some studies appeared to show bacterial DNA residing in our own genome, but those were shown indeed to be caused by contamination. Wolbachia is not known to infect any vertebrates such as humans.

Such transfers have happened before in the distant past notes Werren. In our very own cells and those of nearly all plants and animals are mitochondria, special structures responsible for generating most of our cells supply of chemical energy. These were once bacteria that lived inside cells, much like Wolbachia does today. Mitochondria still retain their own, albeit tiny, DNA, and most of the genes moved into the nucleus in the very distant past. Like wolbachia, they have passively exchanged DNA with their host cells. Its possible wolbachia may follow in the path of mitochondria, eventually becoming a necessary and useful part of a cell.

In a way, wolbachia could be the next mitochondria, says Werren. A hundred million years from now, everyone may have a wolbachia organelle.

Well, not us, he laughs. Well be long gone, but wolbachia will still be around.


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Contact: Jonathan Sherwood
jonathan.sherwood@rochester.edu
585-273-4726
University of Rochester
Source:Eurekalert

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