Peek into microbes hints that packing scheme for genetic material goes way back
Single-celled microbes may have taught plants and animals how to pack their genetic baggage.
Archaea, a type of single-celled life-form similar to bacteria, keep their DNA wrapped around proteins much in the same way as more complex organisms, researchers report in the Aug. 11 Science. This finding provides new insight into the evolutionary origins of the DNA-packing process and the secret to archaea’s hardiness, which enables some to live in acid, boiling water or other extreme environments.
All eukaryotes, including plants and animals, store their genetic material in cell compartments called nuclei. Such organisms cram meters of genetic material into the tiny nuclei by wrapping strands of DNA around clusters of proteins called histones (SN: 1/10/15, p. 32). “It doesn’t really matter which