Mission accomplished

The good news! One of my papers was accepted for publication in Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is one of the best journals publishing evolutionary biology research. To be honest, this paper suck too much blood from me that I do not want even celebrate the positive final of the [never-ending] struggle.

The paper entitled: Vertical evolution and horizontal transfer of CR1 non- LTR retrotransposons and Tc1/mariner DNA transposons in Lepidoptera species.

In a few words, there are two forms of inheritance  – vertical, from parents to children, and horizontal – between non-related organisms.  The vertical inheritance is somewhat familiar to everybody, we all have features we got either from paternal or maternal lineages. The most obvious could be the color of hair and eyes, inherited disorders, etc. The horizontal inheritance is very common among bacteria. For example, the resistance to the certain antibiotics can be acquired from non-related bacterial cells or even from different bacterial species co-existing in habitat. The horizontal inheritance among bacteria is possible thanks to the existence of the special circular DNA ‘chromosomes’ [called mobile elements; mobile  plasmids; etc.] which can travel from one cell to another. These mobile plasmids carry special genes which make bacteria-recipient resistant to the particular antibiotic. BTW, these features are very widely utilized in modern molecular biology, [bio]medical engineering, and biotechnology. The horizontal inheritance was unknown for eukaryotes (non-bacterial species, including human) till about 25 years ago. However only in post-genomic era of biology, when we gain the access to the enormous amount of genetic information, we were able to detect numerous cases of horizontal transfer of genes between various eukaryotic  species/groups.

In my research I tried to address one of the key problems in ‘horizontal inheritance among eukaryotes’ – possible mechanisms involved in the process. The  major problem is that we and other eukaryotes do not have any special highly-tuned systems for horizontal transfer of genes, which means – all reported cases of horizontal transfer were spontaneous and, most probably, did not utilize any universal ‘schemes’. One of the possible mechanisms could involve package of the random DNA into virus particle and subsequent transfer between species. In this paper we explore a little bit more complicated potential pathway for the horizontal transfer between butterflies from the genus Maculinea and moths from the genus Bombyx.

I think my next post will be about Large Blue Maculinea butterflies…

Maculinea arion or Large Blue butterfly completely extinct in the UK in 1979. After 25-year effort to restore this amazing butterfly in UK, researches finally announced triumph in 2009. Meticulous research showed that the extinction was caused by a subtle change in habitat that disrupted the unusual life cycle of this spectacular butterfly. Previously, the extinction had been attributed to the work of overzealous collectors.

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