Crops Steal Genes from Other Species to Stabilize Evolution

Grass crops are able to bend the rules of evolution by borrowing genes from their neighbors, giving them a competitive advantage, a new study has revealed. Research, led by the University of Sheffield, is the first to show that grasses can incorporate DNA from other species into their genomes through a process known as lateral gene transfer. The stolen genetic secrets give them an evolutionary advantage by allowing them to grow faster, bigger or stronger and adapt to new environments quicker. By using genetic detective work to trace the origin of each gene, we found over 100 examples where the gene had a significantly different history to the species it was found in.
Lateral gene transfer can move genetic information across wider evolutionary distances, which means it can potentially have even bigger impacts. “Whilst only a relatively small proportion of genes are transferred between species, this process potentially allows grasses to cherry pick information from other species. With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Original Link:https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/uos-ngc042121.php