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Imagine That! - Plant Genes in Hiding

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Plant Genes in Hiding

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

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Since the beginning of time, genes have been passed down from parent to offspring...but turns out, some of them have been hiding...

Imagine That!

Hiding, but not lost. Scientists have long believed that genes are passed down from parent to offspring, and once a gene is altered or mutated there's very little chance of going back. But researchers examining the Arabidopsis plant just made an astounding discovery that contradicts this long-standing belief. Turns out that, like eighties hair band Duran Duran, some genes are showing up again after it appeared they had been lost.

At Purdue University, research scientist Susan Lolle and her colleagues found that the genes they are studying defy traditional logic.

Lolle: "We can look at the genetic profile of the grandparent, and follow genes as they move from the grandparent to the parent to the grandchild. And we can verify, using markers, that the gene will disappear effectively from the parent, and then reappear in the grandchild. And that gene was found originally in the grandparent, so it skips a generation. It goes into hiding, and then it comes back."

This rewriting of genetic code now means rewriting textbooks all over the world. Lolle says there's also a chance that down the road, this info could be used to develop new methods of gene therapy in humans. I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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