Bacteria in the human body are sharing genes with one another at a higher rate than is typically seen in nature, and some of those genes appear to be traveling — independent of their microbial hosts — from one part of the body to another, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.
The findings are the result of a molecular data-mining method initially conceptualized by Kyung Mo Kim, a senior research scientist at the Korea Polar Research Institute. University of Illinois crop sciences and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés developed the approach with his former student Arshan Nasir, of COMSATS University Islamabad, Pakistan, who is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
This computationally challenging method allowed them to identify instances of “horizontal gene transfer,” the direct transfer of genes between organisms outside of sexual or asexual reproduction.
“Horizontal gene transfer is a major force of exchange of genetic information on Earth,” Caetano-Anollés said. “These exchanges allow microorganisms to adapt and thrive, but they are likely also important for human health. There are some bacteria that cannot live outside our bodies and some without which we cannot live.”
“A better understanding of this phenomenon also will have significant public health value, since the emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens as a result of the horizontal spread of antiobiotic-resistant genes has become a global concern,” Nasir said….
Of course this has no bearing on the question of injecting foreign DNA and RNA into the bodies of young children and pregnant mothers. And the GMO antibiotic-resistant gene factories from BT and roundup-ready corn somehow magically become irrelevant once you eat them.