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Discovery Files - "Green Genes"

Discovery Files
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Discovery Files - "Green Genes"

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

(Stand up comic) ", one plant says to the other, 'you really have your grandfather's nodes'..."

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files" -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

That little bit of genetic plant humor actually underscores a major breakthrough in genetics. One that currently has the scientific community looking at everything we thought we knew about inherited traits.

Scientists at Purdue, studying the genome of a mustard family weed, have discovered that the plant's grandparent can pass genetic information to a grandchild that was totally missing from the parent's genome. This would be impossible if the blueprint for traits resided -- as we thought it did -- solely in cells' DNA.

Now it seems there's a stash of genetic information outside the DNA -- locked away to be accessed when it would benefit the plant. Researcher Susan Lolle likens this reserve genetic template to a second-chance lottery ticket.

This parallel path of inheritance may change human genetic understanding...and could mean you can no longer blame your genes solely on your parents.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at

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