GENTECH archive


So called "Unnatural cross kingdom gene movement" may actuallyoccur in nature

Bacteria will mate with ANYTHING but have been keeping it a secret from the public for years!

Health News
Wednesday, 31 January 2001. Last updated at 03:36 (AEDT)

Tumor-Causing Plant Bacteria May Infect Human Cells
Source: REUTERS, by Emma Patten-Hitt

NEW YORK - A soil bacterium that causes lumpy tumors on plants may be able
to 'jump kingdoms' and insert its tumor-causing DNA into human cells, new
research findings suggest.
The bacterium, called Agrobacterium tumefaciens, contains a small piece of
DNA that can insert itself into the DNA of a host cell and initiate a tumor.
Agrobacterium is already known to cause plant tumors, but researchers wanted
to test whether the bacterium could similarly insert its DNA into human
Dr. Vitaly Citovsky from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and
colleagues found that the plant bacterium was able to attach to human cells
and insert its DNA into human cells just as it does with plant cells.
Whether Agrobacterium is dangerous to humans is unclear, however. "Here
(insertion of DNA into) human cells has been observed in laboratory
conditions; whether it may be relevant biologically in nature remains
unknown,'' the researchers note in the current early edition of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Our experiments were done under laboratory conditions,'' Citovsky told
Reuters Health. "In nature, I do not believe Agrobacterium represents a
danger. However, for people who work with large concentrations of this
bacterium, for example researchers or certain agricultural workers who deal
with heavily infected plants, it may be prudent to be careful or at least
aware,'' he said.
One implication of this study, said Citovsky, is the potential for genetic
flow between bacteria and animals. Another implication is that the basic
biochemical and cellular reactions involved in the Agrobacterium-plant cell
interaction probably exist in the animal kingdom as well.
"Presently, it appears that Agrobacterium is the only example of
trans-kingdom DNA transfer,'' Citovsky said. "I do not rule out other
possibilities but there are no data. Of course, what can be done once, can
almost always be done again,'' he added.
SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition

End of Reuter Item

BUT also see earlier reports of trans-kingdom mating

Nature 1989 Jul
20;340(6230):205- Bacterial conjugative plasmids
bacteria and yeast.
Heinemann JA, Sprague GF Jr

Conjugative plasmids of
Escherichia coli can mobilize
DNA transmission from this
bacterium to the yeast
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The
process shares some of the
features of conjugation
between bacteria and could be
evolutionarily significant in
promoting trans-kingdom
genetic exchange.

Comment in: Nature 1989
Jul 20;340(6230):190-1

Plasmid 1993
Movement of shuttle plasmids
from Escherichia coli into
yeasts other than Saccharomyces cerevisiae using
trans-kingdom conjugation.
Hayman GT, Bolen PL

David Tribe Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer,
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
University of Melbourne
Parkville, Australia 3010
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Ph. 61 3 8344 5703