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Pack-MULEs are toting a new look at plant evolution

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Her familiarity with Thomashow's work raised a flag. What, she wondered, was that supposedly insignificant element doing carrying around such an important gene?

That led Jiang and another team at Washington University, Zhirong Bao and Sean Eddy, to adopt a novel genomewide approach, using computers to examine the whole genome sequence of rice.

"This shows the power of collaboration," Jiang said.

They've found that indeed the Pack-MULEs are numerous. They appear to copy themselves prolifically some 3,000 times throughout the sequence, carrying various types of genes. And not only do they copy, but they rearrange a gene an instigator of variation which likely makes them newly discovered players in evolution.

At MSU, Jiang will continue to look at Pack-MULEs to try to better understand what their role is in evolution. She also will explore other questions such as the common use of MULEs in gene tagging the process of interrupting a gene to understand its function.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Program.


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Contact: Ning Jiang
jiangn@msu.edu
517-355-5191
Michigan State University
29-Sep-2004


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