bdelloid rotifers literally steal genes from other organisms and make them their own.

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bdelloid rotifers literally steal genes from other organisms and make them their own.

I've known about this for awhile now, but I'm sure most people do not. There are certain organisms out there that literally take DNA from other organisms and incorporate it into their own genome - gene thieves if you will. This is an eloquent way around sexual reproduction.

These organisms literally genetically engineer themselves.

I played a little Bioshock last week and it reminded me of these guys.


Just thought it may interest some folks here, as it adds a new dimension to evolution most people aren't aware of.

These are some of the most amazing organisms on earth.


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 Is there any more

 Is there any more information about why they dehydrate/rehydrate in the first place? And how much do they break up, such that their populations would increase?

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That is really interesting

That is really interesting stuff.  It seems like rotifers are science author's favorite animal.  They're just so danged quirky!

I know it's not really related, but this reminds me of the idea that a creature's genome 'steals' individual genes from other functions over many generations as a result of sexual selection.  It's one of the main engines behind the theory of the human brain as a fitness indicator. 

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Not as cool as the creater

Not as cool as the creature in the movie The Thing (1982) but still pretty neat.  Only a thousand or so cells though?

I'll stick with the evolution of the Homo lineage.  heh

But still really neat to know.  Thanks, Yellow.

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Awesome, they go into my

Awesome, they go into my little group of favourite organisms along with slime mold (who are single celled, but get together to form multi-celled fruiting bodies).

I imagine they can viably desicate because they may live in small ponds that dry up.

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I just listened to that guy

I just listened to that guy speaking on 'NPR: Science Friday" podcast.

The ability of these organisms to do this is certainly very interesting and may indeed have some potential applications.

What pissed me off in the interview I heard was that he seemed to be trying to make a larger point, that the rotifer demonstrated  that sexual reproduction was not necessary for shuffling of genetic material, probably the most commonly proposed evolutionary justification for the emergence of sexual differentiation, especially valuable in increasing our repertoire of responses to infection. He explicitly suggested that the evolutionary explanation for sexual reproduction was still a big mystery, which I don't accept - we actually have a number of plausible explanations, all or some of which may apply in different evolutionary niches. We also have very interesting evidence from studying certain organisms such as some lizards, which can switch from sexual to asexual modes under different environmental pressure, which further messes up his argument on this.

However it seems to me that the mechanism by which the rotifer achieves its DNA variations are not really available to large integrated multicellular organism, such as ourselves, his point was pretty lame.

I found him very UN-impressive.


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Chalk another strange

Chalk another strange coincidence up for science fiction! The xenomorphs in the movie Alien incorporate instructions from their hosts. I'm sure if Dan O'Bannon heard about this he'd probably say something like "called it!"