Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host

Date:
July 18, 2012
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Two species of single-cell parasites have co-opted "ready-made" genes from their hosts that in turn help them exploit their hosts, according to a new study.

Two species of single-cell parasites have co-opted "ready-made" genes from their hosts that in turn help them exploit their hosts, according to a new study by University of British Columbia and University of Ottawa researchers.

Related Articles


Part of a group of parasitic microbes called microsporidia, Encephalitozoon hellem and Encephalitozoon romaleae are related to fungi and are commonly found in the intestines of vertebrates. In humans, they are associated with people with immune deficiencies.

The research team identified six genes in these parasites that were not found in any other microsporidian. Rather than the slow process of inheriting individual genes, E. hellem and E. romaleae have acquired a suite of genes that produce folate, a form of folic acid that helps cell division and growth.

Details are published this week in the online journal PNAS Early Edition.

"With their tiny, reduced genomes, microsporidia are models for gene loss," says lead author Patrick Keeling, a professor in UBC's Dept. of Botany.

"These parasites have undergone massive genome reductions and are literally infection machines -- they only kept genes that are essential for survival."

"But here we found two species have actually acquired new genes that work together to make an essential nutrient that the parasites would otherwise have to steal from their host -- opening up new tissues or even new hosts as targets for infection," says Keeling, director of the Centre for Microbial Diversity and Evolution and a member of Beaty Biodiversity Research Centre at UBC.

The process of horizontal gene transfer -- the ability to acquire ready-made genes with specific functions from foreign genomes -- is an important but often overlooked mechanism of evolution, according to Keeling. "It helps explain the relatively rapid evolution of these tiny organisms and their ability to infect and live off of a wide variety of hosts."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J.-F. Pombert, M. Selman, F. Burki, F. T. Bardell, L. Farinelli, L. F. Solter, D. W. Whitman, L. M. Weiss, N. Corradi, P. J. Keeling. Gain and loss of multiple functionally related, horizontally transferred genes in the reduced genomes of two microsporidian parasites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1205020109

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718164951.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2012, July 18). Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718164951.htm
University of British Columbia. "Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718164951.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Lions have made a comeback in southeast Gabon, after disappearing for years, according to live footage from US wildlife organisation Panthera. Duration: 00:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins