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Researchers: Bacteria provided plants with genes to colonize land


Challenging conventional views:

Genes jumping from microbes to green algae hundreds of millions of years ago might have driven the evolution of land plants, researchers report March 1 in the journal Molecular Plant. Their analysis reveals that hundreds of genes from bacteria, fungi, and viruses have been integrated into plants, giving them desirable traits for a terrestrial life.

“Our study changes the conventional view on land-plant evolution,” says senior author Jinling Huang, a biologist at East Carolina University. “I have suspected that horizontal gene transfer helped plants to move from water to land, but we didn’t know how big of a role it played until now.” …

Conventionally, scientists thought eukaryotic genes move only via vertical gene transfer, during which genes pass down from parents to offspring and mutations can occur to give rise to new genes and traits. But Huang and his colleagues, including plant biologist Chun-Peng Song at Henan University, have found evidence from prior studies that HGT in plants might be common.

Cell Press, “Bacteria genes gave ancient plants traits to colonize land” at ScienceDaily (March 1, 2022)

Again, we ask, if so, in a world where horizontal gene transfer is this extensive and significant, what becomes of all the carefully structured Darwinian tales of the gradual development of selective advantage? Aren’t they just evolutionary fiction, a form of historical fiction?

The paper is open access.

You may also wish to read: Animal DNA modifier captured from bacteria 60 million years ago The obvious question this raises is, what about all the detailed Darwinian narratives that a horizontal gene transfer could obviate?

Plants dislike sodium, so they are happier on land. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/569395 Conversation millions of years ago: Al: Hey there Bac, I'm really tired of this salt. I'd like to move to where it's sunny. Got any spare tickets? Bac: Sure, Al, but it'll cost ya. There must have been a price. Nature always pays for value. polistra

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