Give Now

IU Biologists Discover Gene-Stealing Plant

IU biologists have found a south Pacific Plant that "steals" genes from other organisms.

gene stealer

Photo: Jeff Palmer

The flowering Amborella plant in the South Pacific that has stolen genomes from other organisms.

Complex organisms are able to acquire the DNA and genes of other organisms, according to new research from a team of IU biologists.

IU biology professor Jeff Palmer and his team discovered the gene sharing in the flowering Amborella plant in the South Pacific.

Palmer says biologists knew gene sharing happened with bacteria but this discovery shows it’s just as common in bigger organisms. Palmer says a discovery like this is very surprising.

“It would be like the old lady in the song, the lady who swallows a fly, and then a spider, and then the fly to catch the spider and then the cat to catch the spider and so on,” Palmer says. “It would be like if we looked in our own mitochondrial genome and found that it had acquired somehow, maybe by the same process, genes or whole genomes from the spider, and the fly, and a cat, and a fish, a frog, all the way down the evolutionary ladder all the way to fungi.”

Palmer says this discovery is surprising because gene stealing on this scale has never been seen before, and it reveals the potential that organisms have to use foreign DNA effectively.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Technology Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook