Bdelloid rotifers have a gene catured, we are told, from bacteria 60 million years ago:
This discovery marks the first time that a horizontally transferred gene—that is, a gene acquired from another organism not through sexual reproduction—has been shown to reshape the gene regulatory system in a eukaryote.
“This is very unusual and has not been previously reported,” Arkhipova said. “Horizontally transferred genes are thought to preferentially be operational genes, not regulatory genes. It is hard to imagine how a single, horizontally transferred gene would form a new regulatory system, because the existing regulatory systems are already very complicated.”
“It’s almost unbelievable,” said co-first author Irina Yushenova, a research scientist in Arkhipova’s lab.
Yushenova explained how this process would have occurred: “Just try to picture, somewhere back in time, a piece of bacterial DNA happened to be fused to a piece of eukaryotic DNA. Both of them became joined in the rotifer’s genome and they formed a functional enzyme. That’s not so easy to do, even in the lab, and it happened naturally. And then this composite enzyme created this amazing regulatory system, and bdelloid rotifers were able to start using it to control all these jumping transposons. It’s like magic.” Diane Kenney, University of Chicago,“New DNA Modification System Discovered in Animals – “It’s Almost Unbelievable”” at SciTechDaily (March 14, 2022)
Terms like “almost unbelievable” and “magic” are rare in science. One can’t help wondering whether they are code for “This isn’t what Darwinian evolution would teach us to expect but we can’t talk about that, of course.”
The paper is open access.
You may also wish to read:
Animal DNA modifier captured from bacteria 60 million years ago (same story which continues to raise questions)
Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more