Humans aren’t the only species that can make GMOs

monarch b
Monarch Butterfly...A monarch butterfly sips nectar from a zinnia blossom Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, at the Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson, Kan. (AP photo/The Hutchinson News, Travis Morisse)

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study published September 17 in the journal PLOS Genetics, shows that humans are not the only animals capable of producing genetically modified organisms.

New research shows that a symbiotic virus found in wasps, called bracovirus, permanently introduced genes into the genomes of several butterfly species, including the iconic monarch butterfly, where it is passed on from one generation to the next, says Jean-Michel Drezen, an expert on insect viruses at the University of Tours, France. And, over the long run, these new bits of DNA have also given the butterflies enhanced resistance to a type of pathogen called baculoviruses.

These snips of DNA produce proteins that alter and circumvent the caterpillar’s immune system while the wasp’s eggs grew into larvae.

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It’s fascinating to find out hat some insects are capable of genetically modifying others, Drezen says. “So GMOs are not a novelty [exclusive] to humans.”

The research also suggests that genes may be transferred between organisms more easily than we previously thought. This means GMOs, and the foreign DNA we put into them, could possibly wind up in another animal through as-yet unknown mechanisms.

While there are several known examples of gene transfer between other organisms, the function of such transferred genes isn’t usually clear. Eight percent of the human genome, for example, is made up of DNA that originates from viruses

Read full, original post:  GMO Butterflies, Made Naturally by Parasitic Wasps

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