08 February 2013
Two publications are seeking to resurrect claims that plants can reject the inheritance of a mutated gene from their parents, in favour of a healthier ‘ancestral’ copy from their grandparents.
Susan Lolle, a plant geneticist now at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and her colleagues first published evidence in 2005 that plants had passed on genes correctly two generations down, even though the genome of the generation in between had only a mutated version1. This type of inheritance would require some hidden reservoir of genetic information outside of DNA, some suggested — perhaps in RNA transcribed from the healthy gene, which the plant would then use to correct the mutated one. If true, those findings would upend the modern concept of genetic inheritance, and predictably they have met with considerable scepticism. [ … continue reading ]