Here's a bit of random information while I wait for my agar to melt...
Bacteria have a remarkable genome plasticity. They are able to mop up spare DNA in the environment, take pieces from circling bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria for the uninitiated) and exchange parts of their genome with bacteria from another species. The species boundary can be very wide as well, the bacterial equivalent of a mouse nicking bits of DNA from an elephant and incorporating it into it's genome.
In order to jump from one genome to the other (bacteriophage and other viruses) the DNA must be flanked by so called 'transposable elements' usually shortened to 'transposons' because molecular biologists are lazy when it comes to saying unnecessary words. (also, I suspect because 'transposons' sounds more scifi and scientists have a distressing tendency to be geeky like that). These transposons code for enzymes that cut the DNA out and paste it elsewhere, essentially allowing it to jump around between various genomes, being expressed and replicated in different bacteria.
ooop, there goes the sodding microwave. We have a new one after the old one stopped working (about three weeks after I entered the lab. PURE COINCIDENCE) and this one hits a pitch which is just slightly higher than the comfort level.
Incidentally, does anyone know how to do those fancy 'cut' things in blogs? Like when there's a blue underlined 'read more' label which whisks you away to the rest of the blog post. I'd really like to do that but I don't know how...
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