Moriarty Marvin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Johns Hopkins researchers have identified an active type of jumping gene in bats. Jumping genes or transposable elements are gene segments that can reposition themselves in the genome. These genes cause mutations that lead to genetic variation and the potential to develop disease.
According to researcher Nancy Craig, "Transposable elements are virtually everywhere in nature, from bacteria to humans. They're often seen as parasites, replicating themselves and passing from generation to generation without doing anything for their hosts. But in fact they play an important role in fueling adaptation and evolution by adding variability to the genome." Until now, the type of jumping gene that is able to cut itself out from one position on the genome and insert itself into another position was thought to be inactive in mammals.
Learn more about this study, see:
- Rare Form of Active Jumping Genes Found in Mammals (Science Daily)