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.
|Contact: Jonathan Sherwood|
University of Rochester