Home > Discovery, Medical, Research, Science > First Evidence of Gene Transfer from Human Host to Bacterial Pathogen

First Evidence of Gene Transfer from Human Host to Bacterial Pathogen

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Photomicrograph of a colony of Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria; magnified 100X. (Credit: CDC/Dr. Stephen J. Kraus)

“If a human cell and a bacterial cell met at a speed-dating event, they would never be expected to exchange phone numbers, much less genetic material. In more scientific terms, a direct transfer of DNA has never been recorded from humans to bacteria.

Until now. Northwestern Medicine researchers have discovered the first evidence of a human DNA fragment in a bacterial genome — in this case, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea. Further research showed the gene transfer appears to be a recent evolutionary event.

The discovery offers insight into evolution as well as gonorrhea’s nimble ability to continually adapt and survive in its human hosts. Gonorrhea, which is transmitted through sexual contact, is one of the oldest recorded diseases and one of a few exclusive to humans.”

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