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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Show Parasites' Diet Can Affect DNA

November 16, 2016

The saying "You are what you eat," is somehow true, at least in parasites, according to the findings of University of Oxford scientists. In their paper published in the Genome Biology journal, they reported that diets of organisms can have an impact in the DNA sequences of their genes.

Using novel mathematical models, groups of eukaryotic parasites (Kinetoplastida) and bacterial parasites (Mollicutes) that infect different plant or animal hosts have shown trends in the variations of their DNA sequences depending on their diets. For instance, different levels of nitrogen in a parasite's diet contributed to changes in its DNA. Specifically, parasites with low-nitrogen, high-sugar diets had DNA sequences that used less nitrogen than parasites with nitrogen-rich, high-protein diets. The study shows evidence that cellular metabolism could be linked to evolution.

Read more from the University of Oxford.