Gene Transfer from One Species to Another Species


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Left: Tobacco plant expressing a firefly gene. The yellow glow is produced by a chemical reaction catalyzed by the protein product of the firefly gene. Right: Pig expressing a jellyfish gene. Researchers injected a jellyfish gene for a fluorescent protein into fertilized pig eggs. One developed into this fluorescent pig.
Source: Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology (p. 342). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

Gene Transfer from One Species to Another Species (Campbell Biology)

The genetic code is nearly universal, shared by organisms from the simplest bacteria to the most complex plants and animals. The mRNA codon CCG, for instance, is translated as the amino acid proline in all organisms whose genetic code has been examined. In laboratory experiments, genes can be transcribed and translated after being transplanted from one species to another, sometimes with quite striking results. Bacteria can be programmed by the insertion of human genes to synthesize certain human proteins for medical use, such as insulin. Such applications have produced many exciting developments in the area of biotechnology.

Despite a small number of exceptions, the evolutionary significance of the code’s near universality is clear. A language shared by all living things must have been operating very early in the history of life—early enough to be present in the common ancestor of all present-day organisms. A shared genetic vocabulary is a reminder of the kinship of all life.

Because diverse forms of life share a common genetic code due to their shared ancestry, one species can be programmed to produce proteins characteristic of a second species by introducing DNA from the second species into the first.


Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.


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