Many animals, including humans, acquired essential ‘foreign’ genes from microorganisms co-habiting their environment in ancient times, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study challenges conventional views that animal evolution relies solely on genes passed down through ancestral lines, suggesting that, at least in some lineages, the process is still ongoing.
The transfer of genes between organisms living in the same environment is known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). It is well known in single-celled organisms and thought to be an important process that explains how quickly bacteria evolve, for example, resistance to antibiotics.
Lead author Alastair Crisp from the University of Cambridge, UK, said: “This is the first study to show how widely horizontal gene transfer (HGT) occurs in animals, including humans, giving rise to tens or hundreds of active ‘foreign’ genes. Surprisingly, far from being a rare occurrence, it appears that HGT has contributed to the evolution of many, perhaps all, animals and that the process is ongoing, meaning that we may need to re-evaluate how we think about evolution.”More. Also here.
Well perhaps we had better start by banning discussion of horizontal gene transfer in the schools and textbooks—their purpose, after all, is to promote tax-funded Darwinism, not the study of evolution as such.
Here’s the reference:
Alastair Crisp, Chiara Boschetti, Malcolm Perry, Alan Tunnacliffe and Gos Micklem, Expression of multiple horizontally acquired genes is a hallmark of both vertebrate and invertebrate genomes, Genome Biology 2015. DOI: 10.1186/s13059-015-0607-3
See also: The tree of life shows a clock-like trend? in new species’ emergence and diversity, researchers say
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