And therefore, Darwinism less common, though good luck getting many to draw that out. Here:
There are a few examples of gene swapping between eukaryotes — the domain of life that includes fungi, plants and animals — and even from bacteria to eukaryotes (see ‘Bacterial gene helps coffee beetle get its fix’). But such events, known as horizontal gene transfer, were thought to be rare.
But Daniel Muller, a microbial ecologist at the University of Lyons in France, and his colleagues have cast doubt on that assumption after studying bacteria in the soil around the roots of plants. They found that the bacterial gene acdS, used to promote the growth of plant roots, was also present in several types of fungus. Their work is published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Muller and his colleagues scanned the genomes of 149 eukaryotes, and found acdS-like genes in 65 of them — 61 in fungi and 4 in parasitic microorganisms called oomycetes, including Phytophthora infestans, the microbe responsible for the Irish potato famine. After analysing the organisms’ genetic family trees, the researchers determined that the most likely explanation was that three different kinds of bacterium had donated the gene to the fungi and oomycetes in a total of 15 different horizontal-gene-transfer events.
Anything HGT does, Darwinian evolution (natural selection acting on random mutation) did not do. If HGT proves a factor in evolution, it carves a piece out of Darwin’s territory.
See also Horizontal gene transfer from moss to ferns
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