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Our Favorite Genetics Stories of 2022
This year’s stories highlight the expanding versatility of genetic techniques and the increasing utility of such research in all life science fields.
Our Favorite Genetics Stories of 2022
Our Favorite Genetics Stories of 2022

This year’s stories highlight the expanding versatility of genetic techniques and the increasing utility of such research in all life science fields.

This year’s stories highlight the expanding versatility of genetic techniques and the increasing utility of such research in all life science fields.

horizontal gene transfer
Orange and blue spring with steam rising 
Archaea Sport Structures that Shuttle Genes Among Microbes
Natalia Mesa, PhD | Nov 16, 2022 | 3 min read
Researchers find so-called integrons, previously known only in bacteria, in their distantly related microbial relatives. 
A C-fern (Ceratopteris richardii) growing in a pot
Genome Spotlight: C-fern (Ceratopteris richardii)
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Sep 22, 2022 | 5 min read
Sequences for the model organism and two of its kin reveal how these plants got their oversized genomes.
iStock
The Scientist Speaks - Rising From the Dead: How Antibiotic Resistance Genes Travel Between Current and Past Bacteria
Nele Haelterman, PhD | 1 min read
Heather Kittredge and Sarah Evans discuss the environmental conditions that facilitate natural transformation in bacteria’s native habitat.  
Illustration of a DNA virus sneaking genetic material into a host’s nucleus
Infographic: Possible Mechanisms of Gene Transfer in Eukaryotes
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Jul 5, 2022 | 6 min read
Genetic studies have made it clear that eukaryotic horizontal gene transfer can and does happen. Exactly how, though, remains speculative.
Cow image
Slideshow: Examples of Eukaryotic Horizontal Gene Transfer
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Jul 5, 2022 | 4 min read
Horizontally transferred genes play significant roles in eukaryotic genomes
Landscape illustration
Horizontal Gene Transfer Happens More Often Than Anyone Thought
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Jul 5, 2022 | 10+ min read
DNA passed to and from all kinds of organisms, even across kingdoms, has helped shape the tree of life, to a large and undisputed degree in microbes and also unexpectedly in multicellular fungi, plants, and animals.
a microscope image of a rotifer
Bacterial Enzyme Keeps Rotifers’ Transposable Elements in Check
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Mar 3, 2022 | 5 min read
Jumping genes in bdelloid rotifers are tamped down by DNA methylation performed by an enzyme pilfered from bacteria roughly 60 million years ago, a study finds.
5 images related to stories highlighted in the article, including DNA strand, insect, and dog
Our Favorite Genetics Stories of 2021
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Dec 23, 2021 | 4 min read
Studies The Scientist covered this year illustrate the expanding importance of genetic and genomic research in all aspects of life science, from ecology to medicine.
close up photograph of brown and yellow caterpillar on a strawberry
Genes Shared With Viruses Protect Caterpillars from Parasitic Wasps
Annie Melchor | Jul 30, 2021 | 4 min read
A newly identified gene family named “parasitoid killing factor” is found in both insect-infecting viruses and their hosts, although researchers can’t yet tell where they originated.
Gene Exchange Among Gut Bacteria Is Linked to Industrialization
Catherine Offord | Mar 31, 2021 | 5 min read
A study of human populations around the world detects differing rates of horizontal gene transfer in the microbiome depending on what kind of society those people live in.
whitefly horizontal gene transfer plant animal virus crop pest agriculture BtPMaT1 Bemisia tabaci
First Report of Horizontal Gene Transfer Between Plant and Animal
Emma Yasinski | Mar 25, 2021 | 3 min read
Whiteflies overcome a toxin in plants they eat through the use of the plant’s own genetic protection, likely ferried from plant to insect millions of years ago by a virus.
plant organelle plastid horizontal genome transfer
Watch a Plastid Squirm from One Plant Cell to Another
The Scientist Staff | Jan 8, 2021 | 1 min read
Entire organelles bearing DNA move between strains of tobacco that were grafted to one another.
Plant Cells Swap Organelles
Abby Olena, PhD | Jan 7, 2021 | 3 min read
Their relocation explains horizontal genome transfer first described more than a decade ago.
green algae, phytoplankton, giant virus, genetics & genomics, endogenization, evolution, diversity, eukaryote
Giant Viruses Can Integrate into the Genomes of Their Hosts
Amanda Heidt | Nov 19, 2020 | 4 min read
Rather than introducing small chunks of DNA as other viruses do, some giant viruses can contribute more than 1 million base pairs to a host’s genome, broadening the ways in which viruses may shape eukaryote evolution.
Image of the Day: Beetle Evolution
Emily Makowski | Nov 19, 2019 | 1 min read
Plants, fungi, and bacteria likely contributed to insect diversity.
photo of green, tube-like Spirogloea muscicola
Genes from Bacteria Likely Aided Plants’ Move to Land
Shawna Williams | Nov 15, 2019 | 2 min read
An analysis suggests that DNA cribbed from soil microbes enabled plants’ ancestors to colonize a terrestrial environment.
Horizontal Gene Transfer in Bdelloid Rotifers Questioned
Abby Olena, PhD | Jul 12, 2018 | 4 min read
A re-analysis of sequencing data from a 2016 study of these tiny metazoans reveals possible contamination, rather than an exchange of DNA among species.
Fungus Repurposed a Bacterial Gene to Sense Gravity with Crystals
Viviane Callier | Apr 24, 2018 | 3 min read
Rather than getting a gene for its original function, a horizontal gene transfer provides the raw material for evolutionary innovation.
The Unlikely Relationship Between a Brittle Star and a Sea Pansy
Aggie Mika | Jul 16, 2017 | 2 min read
The presence of similar light-emitting enzymes in the distantly related organisms lends new insight into bioluminescence evolution.
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