diatoms

Oh NO GMO, Nature’s Path To Make GMO ‘s Discovered And It’s Everywhere

Craig Venter Is At It Again Demonstrating The Genetic Prowess Of His Genetics Team

The Venter Institute and Scripps Institution of Oceanography Publish Study Describing Mother Nature’s Simple Means To Make GMO ‘s – genetically modified organisms.

She seems to have been doing it for eons of time, it’s one of the most prevalent living systems in the oceans, you know that blue part of this blue planet where 99% of all life resides.

SAN DIEGO, July 6, 2017 — A research team from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) have published a paper today describing the DNA sequences from the centromeres of a type of microalgae called, diatoms (as seen above). Nature’s naturally produced GMO Diatoms are second to only one or two other forms of life in the oceans in terms of their abundance and importance.  The diatoms outweigh all of life of Earth, aka we terrestrial life forms. Rather important on this blue planet one might say. Much of the oxygen you have breathed in to read these words was made by diatoms.

GMO’s, genetically modified organisms, are the bane of a great many people who live in Malthusian fear of everything humanity does. They have long focused their ire on the practice of humans engaging in selective genetic work, aka Monk Gregor Mendel and his modern ilk. By their slim understanding of science modified by the organic food and natural health therapies meme’s ONLY things that Nature makes can be accepted as things not to be feared.

Your Mother Invented GMO Tech

Well hold onto your dogma’s as now it is shown that Mother Nature has been engaging in making life and using GMO for quite some time. It seems she invented it!

The research by first author SIO’s Rachel E. Diner, Ph.D., and senior author JCVI’s Philip D. Weyman, Ph.D., was published in the journal Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) early online edition.

Diatoms are GM'sO

Diatom mineral mine, diatomaceous earth, in Northern California . There are whole mountains of diatoms making up there presence known on Earth – click to enlarge

Diatoms are one of the most abundant species in aquatic environments and are often early and important indicators of the health and quality of their environment. They are near to the very base of the food chain in the oceans and being carbon-based life, as are we all, they are immensely important in the management of CO2 on this blue planet. Like all the green plants they consume CO2 and make more of themselves with it. They are quite happy reproducing so prodigiously that nearly everything in the oceans depend on them are a major item in their food supply.

Diatoms, or at least their remains, have long been an important mineral where they are known as Diatomaceous Earth. The living diatoms are also being explored by many for a variety of biotechnology uses including biofuels and biochemical production.

Here’s where the very interesting GMO side of the story emerges. Diatoms like all life store some of their genetic material in regions of their chromosomes called Centromeres. These regions  of living chromosomes are essential for cell division and cell growth in all eukaryotes, that means we more complex life-forms as opposed to our progenitors the procaryotes, aka bacteria.

Since very little has been known about diatom centromeres, a more thorough understanding of these silica-shelled micro-organisms, should enhance biological studies, including synthetic biology, and enable further development of key applications.

genetic code chart

Genetic Code Chart – click to enlarge

For this study researchers sequenced chromosomes of the model diatom, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which has been studied extensively by some of this research team. Using a variety of methods including forward and reverse genetic approaches the team discovered 25 unique centromere sequences. They observed that diatom centromeres look rather different than centromeres from land plants and animals.

While land plants and animals have very long and complex sequences of ‘amino acids’ that define their centromeres, diatoms have very short sequences (2-3 kb) with a low content of the G and C base pairs. In fact, at least 70% of the bases in the core centromere DNA sequence were A’s and Ts.

Nature’s Way

The team also showed that foreign DNA from other bacteria and eukaryotes with similarly low-GC content and at least 500 bases comprising 70% A and T can mimic a diatom centromere and be maintained as artificial chromosomes.

“Most cells destroy foreign DNA to protect themselves. But in our study, we’ve found that if foreign DNA can mimic the cell’s centromeres, it can not only avoid destruction, it can actually hijack the cell’s replication machinery to create copies of itself,” said Diner.

Weyman added, “DNA from bacteria may have played a large role in the evolution of diatoms. This presents fascinating hypotheses about the mechanisms by which that foreign DNA may have been acquired. Our research is continuing to add to the body of knowledge about diatoms and enables us and the research community to develop more genetic tools and applications from the enhanced understanding of these important microorganisms.”

The trail is not hot to follow down pathways where Nature may have included in her bag of evolutionary tricks the means to swap DNA across widely different forms of life. Usually where one begins to uncover Nature’s methods one finds she had developed that know-how many more ways than one.

This research was supported by funds from the United States Department of Energy, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Yet one more reason I hope one day to have a chat with Craig Venter.