EPISODE 1

Genes Jump

GUESTS: Dr. Anna Klompen, NSF Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Associate, Stowers Institute for Medical Research | Dr. Jessica Goodheart, Assistant Curator of Malacology/Assistant Professor of the Richard Guilder Graduate School | Dr. Ted Turlings, Professor in Chemical Ecology, University of Neuchâtel

IN THIS EPISODE

Cross-examining the origins of our base pairs.

One of our most foundational assumptions is that ‘Our DNA is our own.’ But what if our DNA is stolen? There’s a puzzling phenomenon called ‘horizontal gene transfer’ in which one organisms’ genetics jumps to another. Dr. Kaylee Byers is joined by invertebrate specialists Dr. Anna Klompen from the Stowers Institute, and Dr. Jessica Goodheart, a marine biologist hunting for nudibranchs, “gene pirates” of the sea. And Dr. Ted Turlings will tell us how his trip to China led to an exciting discovery about the whitefly — another common but crafty genetic thief. A final word of advice. Next time a goopy organism bumps into you in a crowd, make sure to check your genes!

A special thanks to the laboratory of Professor Youjun Zhang Department of Plant Protection, Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. Drs. Zhaojiang Guo, Jixing Xia, and Zezhong Yang.

HIGHLIGHTS

(00:00)

"Finding the Transforming Principle"

(11:34)

"A colorful and slick ocean pirate"

(17:50)

"The hunt for a fluttering and destructive gene thief"

BONUS CONTENT

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:03

Old timey Announcer: This is the British News, presenting the world to the world.

 

00:00:14

Dr. Kaylee Byers: A medical officer with the British Ministry of Health is about to make a discovery that will fundamentally change the understanding of life on this planet. Frederick Griffith was a bacteriologist and a specialist in streptococcus pneumonia, as in pneumonia. Just 10 years earlier, his lab had been taken over by the British government during the Great War.

Read Transcript

The cannons and gunfire eventually fell silent, but a new battle would begin and influenza ripped across the globe, which in addition to causing the viral flu, exacerbated bacterial pneumonia. On a mothball budget, Griffith’s lab’s mission was to study the bacteria and viruses that were taking millions of lives. Griffith studied pneumococcal samples hoping to understand how we could better prepare ourselves from widespread diseases. So in January of 1928, he conducted an experiment.

 

Pneumonia can take two forms, one that’s more likely to cause disease than the other. He took the disease-y strain of the bacteria and heated it up until the bacterial colony died. Killing the colony should make it harmless. Then he gathered the other strain of pneumonia that was less likely to cause disease. Finally, he injected the two strains individually into mice. In both cases, the mice were fine, but then he combined the two strains. The mixed pneumonia was lethal. Sad for the mice, but a puzzle remained. What made these non-lethal bacterial colonies suddenly so potent? Griffith and his colleagues pondered and believed they had stumbled across a foundational truth, one that they would call the Transforming Principle.

These days, we understand what Griffith discovered was a process called horizontal gene transfer. It’s a handy little trick some bacteria have up their goopy little sleeves that they can use for their benefit. They essentially share part of their genetic code with other bacteria around them. In the case of streptococcus pneumonia, the less disease-y bacteria was able to grab part of the genetic code from the heat- killed bacteria, the part that makes it able to cause disease. This jumping of genetics back and forth among bacteria is one reason why some of them have been able to adapt to antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance is a superpower for bacteria.

 

But it’s a bit of a supervillain for us humans. In 2019, nearly 5 million people were thought to have died due to antimicrobial-resistant infections. Although a little frightening, this bacterial superpower is fascinating. We tend to think that our DNA is our own and nobody else’s. Perhaps single-cell bacteria are the only exception to this rule. Or are they?

 

You’re listening to Nice Genes!, where we get our grubby little bacteria-covered fingers all over some of the most exciting stories about science and genomics, brought to you by

Genome British Columbia. I’m your host, Dr. Kaylee Byers, purveyor of the weird and wonderful. Horizontal gene transfer sounds like a term from a zany sci-fi film or maybe some kind of a dance move, something like the Cha Cha Slide, but real small.

 

00:03:41

Singer: Slide to the left, slide to the left.

 

00:03:43

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Most of us have a general sense of how our genetics mix to create, well, new life. Haven’t had that convo yet with your kiddos? Science is speed to you, my friends. Horizontal gene transfer is where different organisms swap or outright burgle bits of DNA from each other. Here’s a thought. Nearly a 10th of your genome contains snippets of viral DNA from ancient infections acquired from this gene swiping. You’re living proof of genetic robbery.

 

00:04:12

Gene Cop: Come out with your hands up!

 

00:04:13

Gene Robber: All right, everybody, I’m not going to repeat myself. Put your genes in the bag.

 

00:04:14

Dr. Kaylee Byers: On the surface, it seems like this process is restricted to the minuscule molecular world of bacteria and viruses, but I wanted to see if there are any multicellular fugitives out there.

 

00:04:33

Dr. Anna Klompen: Wow, what a question. So I have-

 

00:04:36

Dr. Kaylee Byers: I spoke with Dr. Anna Klompen.

 

00:04:37

Dr. Anna Klompen: And I’m an NSF fellow and a postdoctoral researcher at Stowers Institute for Medical Research.

 

00:04:43

Dr. Kaylee Byers: She’s a specialist in understanding toxins and venoms…. toxinology , toxicology, venomology. What’s the difference?

 

00:04:51

Dr. Anna Klompen: Yeah, so a toxin is some sort of substance, usually a singular substance, some amount causes some sort of physiological harm. For example, water can be toxic if it’s at really, really high levels. Venoms are a suite of toxins. So many, many toxins that have to be injected into a target animal. So it’s something one animal produces a bunch of and then injects them, be it with fangs, spines, or stinging cells as we’ll talk about later.

 

00:05:21

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Anna is hooked on understanding the molecular secrets that are entirely new to science.

 

00:05:25

Dr. Anna Klompen: When I was very young, I was just really enthralled by this idea of discovering something new that maybe no one else has heard of before or learned before.

 

00:05:37

Dr. Kaylee Byers: That drive took her to a squishy academic niche.

 

00:05:41

Dr. Anna Klompen: So my initial obsession was deep sea and anything with the deep sea, and so when I was reading and just looking up all these different books and doing school projects on deep sea, I, of course, came across jellyfish. There’s just this beauty to them that I think you can be pretty attracted to them, unless you’ve had a very terrible experience.

 

And then I learned about venoms. So animals that have completely manipulated building their own toxic weaponry and using that for a very specific task, and jellyfish, of course, I think most people know jellyfish sting. This is kind of a common knowledge thing, if not at least a safety thing that you learn if you go to the beach or interact with these animals. But we didn’t really know what jellyfish stings looked like, and as soon as I really got hooked on that, I didn’t really ever stop.

 

00:06:33

Dr. Kaylee Byers: I’m curious, do you know how many species of jellyfish there are?

 

00:06:36

Dr. Anna Klompen: Yeah, okay. So this group that I referred to, the phyla cnidaria, which is this group that includes jellyfish and all their relatives, so sea anemones, corals, and this group of parasitic cnidarians as well, that’s estimated to be about 13,000 species. The sea anemones and corals, that has probably about 7, 8,000 different species, I want to say. This parasitic group has probably about 2, 000 species. And then this other group called the medusozoans, which is really where I’ve spent a lot of my time. So medusa, another word for jellyfish, so this is the group that either have or once had, in evolutionary time, is expected a jellyfish stage, so this floating pelagic stage.

 

00:07:20

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Let’s dive into the stinging. How do they sting? What is it about these stinging cells? How do they work?

 

00:07:26

Dr. Anna Klompen: Jellyfish in general, their venom system is really, really interesting because it’s not like many other venomous animals. So snakes, scorpions, insects, we’re thinking fangs, we’re thinking stingers. Jellyfish and their relatives have a decentralized venom system, we like to say. So it’s actually dispersed all over their bodies through these stinging cells that are able to synthesize a toxin mixture and then fire a toxin mixture.

In these stinging cells, it’s these really complex structures called cnidae. So you can think of cnidae as having this ovular capsule. Attached to that capsule is going to be this thread-like structure called the tubule, and it’s wrapped really, really tightly within this capsule, and that’s how stinging cells are initially made and then moved around the body, usually on the tentacles of a jellyfish. And then once they make contact with a predator or a target item or they have some sort of chemical cue as well, then what’ll happen is that tubule structural will rapidly fire out very, very quickly from this actual capsule, do this really high osmotic pressure.

 

So it actually punctures through whatever the target is and then it’s hollow. So inside, it’s actually averting out, and as it averts out, this mixture of toxins, this venom, gets deployed right into the bloodstream of that target animal. They’re even really thinner than the thickness of a sheet of printer paper. I think you can normally fit probably five or eight stinging cells in the thickness of that.

 

00:09:04

Dr. Kaylee Byers: What can be the impact on an organism? I know that there are some cases for some jellyfish that you can actually, you can have impacts on your heart. I don’t don’t know if I’m making that up. Right?

 

00:09:16

Dr. Anna Klompen: Yes.

 

00:09:16

Dr. Kaylee Byers: So what might this, if I was not a full human and I was just swimming around and I was a tiny fish, what might that impact be on my body?

 

00:09:27

Dr. Anna Klompen: So this suite of toxins, these venoms can act either on their own or together with other things and they have kind of very specific molecular functions. So some of them might cause pores, so pore-forming toxins, so they might puncture through specific cells and just make them kind of explode. They might be neurotoxic, so they actually either bind or otherwise inhibit different ion channels for different things. And they also can just be proteolytic, so just general enzymes that are causing some sort of detriment. So in terms of a sting for a human, depending on what kind of suite of toxins are in there, you might get a rash, burning sensation, pain certainly.

 

But in really extreme cases, you might have an allergic reaction, what’s similar to an allergic reaction. So you’re going to have some breathing problems, really intense sweating.There’s potential for you to certainly go to the hospital for a long period of time.

Now, what you were talking about too, so if we think of the most extreme stings, and those are from these different suites of symptoms that you get from box jellyfish.

Box jellyfish are a group of jellies. So one species of these box jellyfish called the Australian box jellyfish are often regaled as the most venomous animal on the planet towards humans because if you get a large enough sting from this animal, you’re going to be dead in three to five minutes because the most dominant toxins in their venoms, for one reason or another, go right for your heart. One set of them pauses your heart, so essentially keeps it from locking it in a contracted state, and then the next suite of toxins actually puncture holes and essentially make the rest of your heart nonfunctional.

 

00:11:11

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Oh, no. I love me some jellies. I’ve got one tattooed on my foot. Believe me when I say that jellies are fascinating and their unique stinging structures are incredibly useful to them for both defense and catching prey. With such a unique trait developed over millions of years of evolution, it’s invaluable for keeping them alive. But for some enterprising pursuers, a jelly’s ability is a boon worth the risk.

 

00:11:44

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: I’m currently at Woodman Point Regional Park. We’re near Perth, Australia.

 

00:11:49

Dr. Kaylee Byers: That’s Dr. Jessica Goodheart, an expert in…

 

00:11:52

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: Let’s say Fred or Gary, as maybe I would go with, just the snail reference.

 

00:11:58

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Fred’s a nudibranch, or better known as a sea slug.

 

00:12:01

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: Let’s say Fred would essentially identify a prey, let’s say anemone or hydra or other type of cnidaria that they’re interested in eating. They get this sort of whiff of some sort of chemical that leads them to this anemone, let’s say.

 

00:12:16

Fred the Slug: Set sail, mate!

 

00:12:17

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: And what they’ll first do is use their oral tentacles, which are this sort of sensory structures just above their mouths, and try and figure out if this is actually the prey that they’re looking for. In that process, what often happens is the nematocysts fire from the Cnidarian.

 

00:12:34

Fred the Slug: Blimey!

 

00:12:34

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: Fred then gets sort of taken aback by these firing nematocysts going, ” Oh wait, I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to do this. Is this really how I’m going to go about my day?”

 

00:12:46

Fred the Slug: Hey!

 

00:12:46

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: And so they’ll kind of probe around and find a good spot and once they find a good spot, they’ll start attaching. So they’ll attach with their mouths and their radula kind of comes out and scrapes off bits from where their mouths are attached to the anemone.

 

00:13:02

Dr. Anna Klompen: In digesting that material, they ingest whole, undischarged or unfired stinging cells.

 

00:13:07

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: And they move them all the way into what we call a cnidosac, which is a muscular sac at the very tips, and that’s where these nematocysts are stored, and they store them until they use them for defense.

 

00:13:19

Dr. Anna Klompen: This is a way for these animals to defend themselves from being preyed upon themselves.

 

00:13:23

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: Fred, in this case, will have this sort of armory of weapons in the tips of the cerata, orient those nematocysts towards whatever is bothering it.

 

00:13:35

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Jellyfish or anemones, sea slugs like Fred love to hijack their stinging cells.

 

00:13:40

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: Exactly. I like to think of them like little pirates.

 

00:13:43

Dr. Anna Klompen: I just want to say, everyone that always likes to say, “Oh, jellyfish don’t have brains,” if they are such simple animals, many others have taken the time to learn how to steal their secrets in a way to use themselves. Clearly, I think that demonstrates that these are just wonderful animals that are being taken advantage of. So I just want to throw that out there.

 

00:14:04

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Yes, just like # JusticeForJellies. You know?

 

00:14:07

Dr. Anna Klompen: I think one, they’ve been around for so long already, but at the very least that other animals are stealing their innovations because they’re just so good at what they did.

 

00:14:21

Dr. Kaylee Byers: These colorful ocean pirates can get up to a lot more than your typical Cnidarian mugging.

 

00:14:27

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: I’m trying to find some sea slugs here. It’s a bit of a rocky coast. There’s a rocky outcropping here where people tend to fish from, but there’s a lot of rubble near the base of those big rocks that might be flippable and potentially could have some sea slugs there. So we’re here looking for today, it’s big…Yeah. There are other Nudibranchs that steal chemicals from their prey, so there’s some that feed on, say, sponges or other chemically defended invertebrates and they steal those chemicals and sort of store them at the edges of their body also for defense, but they sometimes steal those chemicals and then sort of use them to create a new chemical that they use for defense.

 

In other cases, there are some nudibranchs that steal nematocysts but also are able to take symbionts from corals that the corals have sequestered and sort of a secondary theft where the corals create their symbiosis and then the nudibranchs can steal those symbionts. Those are both used in terms of to create food for the animals and they have these really beautiful, what we call parapodia, or sort of flaps of tissue, that they can open so that they can gather sunlight essentially.

 

00:15:45

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Jellyfish are an example of animals that have an excellent ability to deal with predators, and nudibranchs, well, they’re taking notes, and cnidocytes, but how exactly are they doing it? Are they just packaging jelly-stinging cells or going so far as to snag their DNA?

 

00:16:01

Dr. Anna Klompen: How that’s done, the mechanism of how that works, I am pretty sure is not really well- elucidated from other studies. I think it’s getting much better in Nudibranchs, which I’m hoping Jessica can talk more about.

 

00:16:15

Dr. Jessica Goodheart: That’s something that I’m working to investigate is essentially how they’re able to identify in nematocysts and sort of take them up because they’re stored intracellularly, so inside of cells, and maintain their function essentially, rather than destroying them. We know for sure or we’re fairly confident, I would say, that there’s no transfer happening and that’s mostly because there’s no sort genes or genome that comes with the nematocysts. Now, that’s in contrast to things like chloroplast, which do have their own internal genome, and that’s in contrast to, say, a symbiont, which also has its own genome. And so the nudibranchs have to essentially maintain their function all on their own.

 

00:16:59

Dr. Anna Klompen: How they do it, I would love to know.

 

00:17:00

Music: ( Singing)

 

00:17:06

Dr. Kaylee Byers: So while folks like Dr. Klompen and Dr. Goodheart look into that, let’s turn to another species doing some stealthy DNA stealing.

 

00:17:13

Music: ( Singing)

 

00:17:14

Dr. Kaylee Byers: You are listening to Nice Genes!, a podcast all about the fascinating world of genomics and the evolving science behind it, brought to you by Genome British Columbia. I’m Dr. Kaylee Byers, your host, and we want to get more people to listen to the genomic stories that are shaping our world. So if you like Nice Genes!, hit follow an Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your shows. Help us commandeer the podcast feeds by horizontally transferring the show to your friends.On the scent of another species with this gene- gobbling ability, my search took me to Switzerland.

 

00:17:59

Dr. Ted Turlings: Yeah, five o’clock commute.

 

00:18:01

Dr. Kaylee Byers: To meet Dr. Ted Turlings.

 

00:18:02

Dr. Ted Turlings: Professor at the University of Neuchâtel, a tiny university in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I am the chair of a laboratory of chemical ecology here.

 

00:18:13

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Dr. Turlings’s work looks at the relationship between insects and plants. A lot of it focuses on agriculture in settings where pests are decimating crops. One day he was visiting China for a conference and decided to pop down to meet an old colleague of his in a lab of one, Professor Zhang.

 

00:18:30

Dr. Ted Turlings: And they invited me to give a presentation about our work.

 

00:18:32

Dr. Kaylee Byers: But after the presentation, they pulled him aside to ask his opinion on a project they’d been working on.

 

00:18:37

Dr. Ted Turlings: So they are studying the whitefly and they showed me the results of this particular study.

 

00:18:43

Dr. Kaylee Byers: The lab was working with whiteflies, a pretty common crop pest.

 

00:18:46

Dr. Ted Turlings: So whiteflies are tiny, tiny, little insects that are not flies. They’re actually more similar to aphids. They’re tiny, but they occur in the millions in certain fields and they suck out the juices out of plants.

 

00:19:00

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Despite their humble appearance, they can be quite destructive.

 

00:19:04

Dr. Ted Turlings: What they do is they also transmit viruses and fungal pathogens, and that can cause tremendous losses in crops yearly.

 

00:19:12

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Do you have a sense of the scale of this impact, like how much food or agricultural waste there is because of these insects?

 

00:19:20

Dr. Ted Turlings: Well, the numbers are always expressed in main money, which doesn’t make that much sense because it’s of course a food security problem, but people are talking about at least $20 billion worth per year that is lost, but it’s just really worldwide. Honestly, this goes every continent everywhere. It’s in the top 10 of insect pests worldwide, and it’s an invasive pest. At least for North America, I know that it only appeared in the early 1800s was the first time it was there and most likely came from Asia.

 

00:19:52

Dr. Kaylee Byers: But Dr. Zhang’s team had revealed what might have been making these little white bugs so effective.

 

00:19:58

Dr. Ted Turlings: And they started looking at the genome of this whitefly and they looked for genes that allow these whiteflies to deal with plant toxins. So these are defense compounds stored in many plants. There’s a sugar attached to the molecule when it’s stored inside the plant, but as soon as you take a bite or as an insect takes a bite out of a plant, then there are enzymes liberated and then the phenolic compounds will become toxic.

 

But in this case, this particular gene that is in these whiteflies shows a certain sequence to detoxify certain compounds. They looked for that same gene then in other organisms, and the only place they found it was in plants. So no other insect or animal or bacterium or whatever had that same gene. So this is when they started thinking, hey, this gene must have been derived at some time from plants. Yeah, obviously when I saw their first results, I got extremely excited about it because it did show very convincingly that there was this gene transferred from plant to insect, and I had not seen any other evidence for any transfer from plant to insect.

 

00:21:25

Dr. Kaylee Byers: You mentioned earlier that perhaps there might be a virus involved. How does this gene transfer happen?

 

00:21:31

Dr. Ted Turlings: That still remains a big mystery, and I don’t want to claim that we have any idea about that, but it seems like a very logical route. Viruses are basically manipulating the genome of organisms and they do transfer certain fractions and parts of genes into their hosts as well. So somehow during their manipulation of the plant, something happens that is extremely rare, but basically unlimited time for it to occur, plus billions of whiteflies and basically themselves are infected with viruses that have no negative impact on the whiteflies themselves, but while they’re feeding, the viruses are the most likely route through which this horizontal gene transfer may have occurred.

 

We definitely don’t know how it happened, and we do know that it’s most likely happened more than 35 million years ago. So they went through a whole series of different experiments to definitely show that this gene was in the whiteflies and that it was functional. But like I said, we really have no idea what happened.

 

00:22:42

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Okay. I hope I’m not the only one humming with curiosity over these clever whiteflies. How do they do it? No, just me? Geeking out aside, these flies can be devastating to plants and crops and therefore, hello, people too. Professor Zhang and his colleagues wondered if they could use that same genetic trick to their advantage.

 

00:23:06

Dr. Ted Turlings: The final step of this research, and that’s the most exciting step of it, is they genetically modified tomato plants to produce this double-stranded RNA. So they had these tomato plants that were able to produce the double-stranded RNA, and as soon as then the whiteflies are feeding on that, they ingest the RNA. That interferes with the gene that we’re talking about, and then they observed that within three days, all of the whiteflies were dead.

 

00:23:42

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Oh, how the tables had turned. The modified tomatoes were effective against the whiteflies. The enhanced enzyme from the tomatoes exclusively targeted the DNA of the whiteflies using their own trick against them.

 

00:23:56

Dr. Ted Turlings: So that is the ideal way of controlling this pest, 100% mortality and something that they would have an extremely hard time adapting to because developing resistance to genetically modified tomato plants would be very, very difficult. The really charming part about this is that it will have no impact on any other insect because no other insect carries that gene, but still very controversial.

 

00:24:23

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Scientifically, that’s cool. But it does raise a question about what we as a society are comfortable with. The conversation around modifying the genetics of foods, that’s a sticky one. Yeah. Actually, I’d love to ask you about sort of genetically modified organisms because this is, I know as a scientist myself, I think about this question a lot and it can be so controversial. So how do you think about it within the context of this and your work?

 

00:24:49

Dr. Ted Turlings: Yeah, I’ve been less and less careful about it and saying that it’s becoming more and more a technique that I think will have to be adopted to find the ideal ways to ensure food security and actually get rid of some practices that are extremely, extremely damaging to the environment and to human health. One of the other concerns is also that these genes primarily spread from a crop to wild plants, and that’s legitimate concern. Our model plant is maize. The plant that our colleagues in China worked with are tomatoes, so maize originates from Mexico, so there, I would be a bit more careful. The wild plant is called teosinte, that could jump from maize to teosinte. If that’s desired or not, it’s a bit questionable. You also, I think, have to keep in mind the alternative, right? So right now, the alternative is using tons of pesticides.

 

00:25:52

Dr. Kaylee Byers: I would love to get a little bit about your vision for the future. I mean, you hinted at this, we are dealing with climate change. It is changing what agriculture looks like in this space. It will definitely impact food security. So what do you feel would be… I mean, what do you hope to see for the future of agriculture to manage the sort of compounding threats of climate change?

 

00:26:19

Dr. Ted Turlings: Yeah, I think science has a lot to offer. I would highly recommend that governments invest more into that, looking for alternatives to these pesticides, and then also looking for ways to deal with these traumatic changes that are coming or already are there now, as we see again this summer where the crops are also going to get lost in many areas because of climate change and heat, and particularly right now, genetically modifying them with genes that allow for drought tolerance or for heat tolerance. They already have been discovered. Now they need to be introduced into important crops, and that’s one way to go and other ways to go. There are all kinds of other researchers that have super interesting ideas and very advanced technologies that could be used in agriculture to protect crops with without having to use these extremely harmful chemicals.

 

00:27:23

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Well, thank you so much, Dr. Turlings. This was very interesting.

 

00:27:27

Dr. Ted Turlings: Yeah, it was great to talk to you. It was really fun.

 

00:27:29

Dr. Kaylee Byers: You know, pod fam, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. We’re discovering so much, and it’s exciting to think about where we’ll be even 10 years from now, and I guess these kind of questions just seem extra urgent. It’s really exciting to sort of hear about the discoveries and sort of how those discoveries are being thought of within the context of supporting global foods into the future. As the self-appointed genomic sheriff for this episode, I’d say we caught our gene thief, the whitefly.

 

00:28:05

Genomic Sheriff: You’re going to be put behind the bars of a double helix for the rest of your life, whitefly. You best get comfortable, all 18 days of them.

 

00:28:17

Dr. Kaylee Byers: But there are so many of these little guys, they could be buzzing around your neighborhood garden right now. Understanding horizontal gene transfer can illuminate a secret genomic tool at our disposal. But if and how and when to deploy it, well, those aren’t questions to be taken lightly. Will we be accomplices in the gene stealing or lock it down?

00:28:39

Music: ( Singing)

 

00:28:57

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Our guest for today was toxicologist, Dr. Anna Klompen from the Stowers Institute, Dr. Jessica Goodheart with the American Museum of Natural History and Institute of Comparative Genomics, and Dr. Ted Turlings from the University of Neuchâtel. I also wanted to acknowledge the laboratory at Professor Youjun Zhang, Department of Plant Protection, Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

 

You’ve been listening to Nice Genes!, a podcast brought to you by Genome British Columbia. If you liked this episode, go check out some of our previous ones wherever you listen from, share us with your friends, and leave us a review. You can also DM the show on Twitter by going to @ GenomeBC. And if you’re listening with kiddos or you’re a teacher looking to spice up your lessons, we have learn-along activity sheets added to the show description for each episode.

 

00:29:45

Music: ( Singing)

 

00:29:54

Dr. Kaylee Byers: If this episode was your tomato jam, you’ll love our next one. We’ll be peeling back the truth of one of our favorite bright yellow treats.

 

00:30:03

Dr. James Dale: And this guy was collecting all of these different types of bananas. He had a friend in the UK called Barclay, and Barclay was an amateur plant hunter. This guy sent Barclay two bananas, two suckers. Unfortunately, Barclay didn’t last much longer than that. His family decided they would liquidate the estates and they sold these two suckers. One apparently went to Europe. Nobody knows what happened to the other banana.

 

00:30:29

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Has anyone gone on a search to try to find the missing other sucker of the other plant? Has anyone tried to track this thing down?

 

00:30:39

Dr. James Dale: I had a very brief attempt, yep. That’s right.

 

00:30:46

Dr. Kaylee Byers: Thanks for listening, fellow pirates, and I’ll be sea-ing you later.

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Genome BC respectfully acknowledges that our office space is located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nations, the traditional custodians of these lands.

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