horizontal gene transfer

Algae routinely steal genes from bacteria

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IMAGE
The diatoms in this image are members of the CRASH lineage that have stolen many genes from bacteria. CRASH species have become dominant phytoplankton in both marine and freshwater environments./Julia Van Etten

Algae, we are told, get an average of one percent of their genome from bacteria, a different kingdom of life:

Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria to gain beneficial attributes, such as the ability to tolerate stressful environments or break down carbohydrates for food, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.

The study of 23 species of brown and golden-brown algae, published in the journal Science Advances, shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of a massive and ancient group of algae and protists (mostly one-celled organisms including protozoa) that help form the base of oceanic food webs. These photosynthetic species produce about 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe and some of them, such as diatoms, are responsible for about 45 percent of global primary production of organic matter.

Rutgers University, “Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria ” at Eurekalert

One wonders how much of their genome they steal from more closely related species (as opposed to schoolbook Darwinian evolution).

Paper. (open access)

See also: Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more

4 Replies to “Algae routinely steal genes from bacteria

  1. 1
    Ed George says:

    One wonders how much of their genome they steal from more closely related species (as opposed to schoolbook Darwinian evolution).

    Darwinian evolution only requires differential reproduction acting on a heritable source of variation. This seems very Darwinian to me.

  2. 2
    Belfast says:

    ‘differential reproduction acting on a heritable source of variation”
    Excellent answer, EG, word for word in quizlet.com’s flash cards, under ‘natural selection’ heading https://quizlet.com/64752915/ch2526-evolution-flash-cards/
    I don’t think that was the issue. Are you saying this was predicted, or at least predictable?

  3. 3
    Fasteddious says:

    First we read that algae, “often steal genes from bacteria”, which sounds like this is well known and ongoing (present tense) – not to mention the intent inherent in “steal”, unseemly for a mere algae. Then we see, “shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of … algae”, so perhaps not so well known and in the past tense (evolutionary time). So which is it?
    Is there any indication of how these algae “steal” genes from bacteria? Algae do not normally eat bacteria, but maybe bacteria infect algae and give up their “genes” when they die inside them? And then the algae just somehow adopt the genes and those that do something useful for them survive?
    Of course, this finding supports ID as well (or perhaps better?) than Darwinism. In either case, the “how” remains unknown, yet materialists often complain that ID does not explain its own “how”, despite the obvious differences between natural and intelligent causation.
    Maybe if I read the actual paper I would become enlightened?

  4. 4
    Ed George says:

    B

    EG, word for word in quizlet.com’s flash cards, under ‘natural selection’ heading

    🙂 what are the odds?

    I don’t think that was the issue. Are you saying this was predicted, or at least predictable?

    The specifics, no. But the need for a heritable source of variation certainly was. If my memory serves me correct, it was a prediction made by Darwin himself. That is why it has always confused me why ID keeps raising HGT as evidence against evolution.

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