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genetic parasites

Does horizontal gene transfer enable genetic parasites to survive natural selection?

Researchers Iranzo and Koonin ask: Typically, natural selection results in deletions of harmful genes, so the main question is, why hasn’t natural selection wiped out genetic parasites? They mean “transposons, plasmids, viruses” etc., that offer no benefit to the hosts. They offer a hypothesis: In a new study published in EPL, researchers Jaime Iranzo and Eugene V. Koonin at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, have found that horizontal gene transfer may be one of the keys to understanding the persistence and spread of genetic parasites over evolutionary timescales. In horizontal gene transfer (HGT), genetic information is transferred to an organism by a variety of mechanisms other than the traditional parent-to-offspring process of transferring DNA. For example, an Read More ›