The GLP is committed to full transparency. Download and review our 2019 Annual Report

Natural GMOs: Parasitic plants steal host DNA to siphon off needed resources

px cuscuta europaea bgiu
Image: Wikimedia Commons
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Some parasitic plants steal genetic material from their host plants and use the stolen genes to more effectively siphon off the host’s nutrients. A new study led by researchers at Penn State and Virginia Tech reveals that the parasitic plant dodder has stolen a large amount of genetic material from its hosts, including over 100 functional genes. These stolen genes contribute to dodder’s ability to latch onto and steal nutrients from the host and even to send genetic weapons back into the host. The new study appears July 22, 2019, in the journal Nature Plants.

“Horizontal gene transfer, the movement of genetic material from one organism into the genome of another species, is very common in microbes and is a major way that bacteria can acquire antibiotic resistance,” said Claude dePamphilis, professor of biology at Penn State and senior author of the study. “We don’t see many examples of horizontal gene transfer in complex organisms like plants, and when we do see it, the transferred genetic material isn’t generally used. In this study, we present the most dramatic case known of functional horizontal gene transfer ever found in complex organisms.”

Related article:  Viewpoint: Farmers need more than pro-GMO marketing campaigns to earn public trust

Read full, original article: Parasitic plants use stolen genes to make them better parasites

Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend