Alga borrows genes to beat the heat, acid and toxic metals

Such genetic theft from bacteria and archaea is unusual

By Tina Hesman Saey, 11:56 AM March 7, 2013

Life is hard in hot volcanic pools laden with salt, acid, sulfur and toxic metals, but a red alga called Galdieria sulphuraria thrives in such environments with a little genetic help from some microbial buddies. The alga borrowed at least 5 percent of its genes from bacteria and archaea that live in extreme conditions, Gerald Schönknecht of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and his colleagues report in the March 8 Science.

That amount of borrowing is unusual among eukaryotes, organis...

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