Discussing about significant genetic variation due to horizontal gene transfer
Some posts ago I came up with a study performed by some scientist from the University of Toronto and a team of Chinese researchers who identify what are the most efficient varieties of plants using nitrogen. These scientists suggested that the plant should have some specific features. They had to be currently grown by farmers, have a high yield potential, be disease and pest-resistant, grow to the right size and have strong enough roots to withstand monsoon-force winds.
From that set of characteristics there is one that makes me think on what would be the results of having disease and pest-resistant plant varieties. Because yes, more yields can be achieved which means more food, but still there is a potential of horizontal gene(s) transmission or in other words the movement between unicellular and/or multicellular organisms. This transfer of genes is possible thanks to the existence of mobile genetic elements, such as plasmids (extrachromosomal geneticmaterial), transposons (“jumping genes”), and bacteria-infecting viruses (bacteriophages).
You may think why I am writing about this, well the answer is related with the fact that bacteria living in the soil could make the gene transference to happen, and that jumping gene could be relocated in the genetic material of other undergrowth plants, i.e. some herbaceous plants like shrubs, that may increase its resistance to diseases too. The pathways by which horizontal gene transfer occur in plants, are not well understood. More studies should be done to clarify such event and/or to better understand the processes involved in the exchange of genetic information among species.