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Scientific progress

10 - 07 - 2018

Our evolution is influenced by gene transfers between species

A study of several hundred animal species genomes shows the importance of gene transfer between species and could explain the rapid expansion of viviparous mammals.




The genome of an individual is transmitted essentially by two parents of the same species. But there is one category of DNA fragments called "jumpers" that has the ability to self-generate in one genome and transfer to the genome of another species.


Researchers have studied the influence of jumping genes on the evolution of species. For this, they chose two, named L1 and BovB, that are most common in mammals, and searched for their presence in the genome of 759 species of fungi, plants and animals.


They discovered that:


             - the jumping genes enter the genome of a species and then multiply there


             - L1 is found in all living groups studied, BovB only in animals


             - L1 and BovB are present in primitive animal species (sea urchins, starfish) before reaching the marine and terrestrial vertebrates


             - blood sucking animals (bug, leech) most likely transfer jumping genes


             - the bat is a reservoir of jumping genes that resists their insertion into its genome


             - transfers are easier between genetically close species


              -mammals seem sensitive to the multiplication of jumping genes


             - the L1 gene probably facilitated the rapid speciation of viviparous mammals.




Beyond its scientific interest, this study shows the community of living species including at the level of the genome and the need to study life to understand the human.