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Bdelloids can take advantage of the entire environmental metagenome

May 31, 2008
Nearly all other multicellular animals have strong safeguards against foreign DNA, but bdelloids’ seeming embrace of genetic detritus is in keeping with their general quirkiness: Shunning sex and entirely lacking males, the ubiquitous creatures are also extraordinarily resistant to radiation, as Meselson and Gladyshev demonstrated earlier this year in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
clipped from www.sciencedaily.com

Long viewed as straitlaced spinsters, sexless freshwater invertebrate animals known as bdelloid rotifers may actually be far more promiscuous than anyone had imagined: Scientists at Harvard University have found that the genomes of these common creatures are chock-full of DNA from plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals.
bdelloids may acquire DNA by habitually disintegrating their genomes — something these unusual animals do regularly during periods of desiccation, which fractures their genetic material and ruptures cellular membranes. Miraculously, bdelloids can then spring back to life upon rehydration of their habitats, readily reconstituting their genomes and their membranes.

In the process of rebuilding their shattered DNA, though, they may adopt shreds of genetic material from other bdelloids in the same puddle, as well as from unrelated species.

In principle, this gives them an opportunity to take advantage of the entire environmental metagenome
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