Natural genetic engineering allowed plants to move from water to land, according to a new study by an international group of scientists from Canada, China, France, Germany, and Russia.
“This is one of the most important events in the evolution of life on this planet—without which we as a species would not exist,” said Gane Ka-Shu Wong, co-investigator and professor in the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta. “The movement of life from water to land—called terrestrialization—began with plants and was followed by animals and then, of course, humans. This study establishes how that first step took place.”
The movement of plants from water to land was made possible when genes from soil bacteria were transferred to algae through a process called horizontal gene transfer. Unlike vertical gene transfer, such as the transfer of DNA from parent to child, horizontal gene transfer occurs between different species.
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