Tuesday, October 03, 2006

 

Genome archaeology illuminates the genetic engineering debate

The journal Genome Research's cover story for October 2nd, 2006 tells a tale of 'genome archaeology' by genetic researchers who dug deeply into the long history of maize and rice. Their resulting insights into plant genomic evolution may well fuel the fires of the genetically modified organism (GMO) controversy.

"Our findings elucidate an active evolutionary process in which nature inserts genes much like modern biotechnologists do. Now we must reassess the allegations that biotechnologists perform 'unnatural acts,' thereby creating 'Frankenfoods,'" said Professor Joachim Messing (homepage), project leader and director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

By comparing corresponding segments of two maize (corn) chromosomes with each other, and then to a corresponding segment of rice, project scientists reconstructed a genetic history replete with "reconfiguration and reshuffling, reminiscent of working with Lego blocks," Messing said.

Continued at "Genome archaeology illuminates the genetic engineering debate"
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Based on "Uneven chromosome contraction and expansion in the maize genome" (Abstract)

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