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Swapping analogous genes no problem among species

Yeast survives with bacteria, plant, human versions of shared genetic material

4:12pm, July 19, 2016
yeast, bacteria and a plant

COMMON GROUND Yeast, bacteria and plants are very different organisms, but have many genes that look alike. New research shows about half of those analogous genes can substitute for each other.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Organisms as different as plants, bacteria, yeast and humans could hold genetic swap meets and come away with fully functional genes, new research suggests.

Researchers have known for decades that organisms on all parts of the evolutionary tree have many of the same genes. “How many of these shared genes are truly functionally the same thing?” wondered Aashiq Kachroo, a geneticist at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues. The answer, Kachroo revealed July 15 at the Allied Genetics Conference, is that about half of shared genes are interchangeable across species.

Last year, Kachroo and colleagues reported that human genes could substitute for 47 percent of yeast genes that the two species have in common (SN: 6/27/15, p. 5). Now, in unpublished experiments, the researchers have swapped yeast

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