Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mutant lifestyles: Researchers uncover a potent genetic element in Earth's smallest life forms

Researchers have discovered unidentified organisms capable of self-mutation thus expanding the diversity of the tree of life. These new microorganisms are 500 times smaller than bacteria, scientists found these organisms in the groundwater samples from a Colorado aquifer. After analyzing numerous genomes from the sample they detected a unusual genetic element DGR or diversity-generating retroelements. A professor in UCSB's Department of Earth Sciences along with postdoctoral scholar Blair Paul found that these DGRs discovered in bacteria are enabling them to target their own genes to accelerate mutation. While still is unknown about DGRs scientist now are able to see the pattern of mutation in DNA . The big question now is whether these mutations can alter the proteins the genes code for or is the whole sequence being deleted. I found this article interesting as it shows how diverse the microbial world is and how there is still much to learn. 

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