Dr. Chris Witt & The MSB: Bird Genomes Contain "Fossils" Of Parasites That Now Infect Humans


Posted: Apr 20, 2016 - 09:00am

Bird genome diagram

In rare instances, DNA is known to have jumped from one species to another. If a parasite’s DNA jumps to its host’s genome, it could leave evidence of that parasitic interaction that could be found millions of years later — a DNA ‘fossil’ of sorts.

Alexander Suh from Uppsala University (Sweden) is an expert on the small stretches of DNA that tend to jump from one place to another, called transposable elements. Working with a team from 11 institutions in five countries including University of New Mexico Assistant Professor Christopher C. Witt in the Department of Biology, the researchers discovered a new type of transposable element that occurred in certain bird genomes but not others. Frozen tissue specimens from UNM’s Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB) played a key role in the discovery.

Read the full story at UNM Newsroom