GENETICS: Crossing to the Other Side

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Science  01 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5595, pp. 927b
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5595.927b

The beetle Callosobruchus chinensis lives on adzuki beans. It has the misfortune to harbor intracellular endosymbionts of the genus Wolbachia, which are rickettsia-like bacteria that infest a variety of insects. The Callosobruchus-resident bacteria are transmitted in the maternal lineage and can be expunged by administration of the antibiotic tetracycline. Kondo et al. find that one such Wolbachia strain has succeeded in transferring a sizeable portion of its genome (more than 1%) to the X chromosome of its host. This fragment contains several genes that do not appear to be expressed, but it is no longer removable by antibiotic treatment and shows an X-linked pattern of inheritance. Might this be an attempt at horizontal gene transfer? — GJC

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99, 14280 (2002).

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