Stray DNA

Recently, some geneticists suspect that it is common to find multiple genomes in the same individual, whether they be animals or plants. This stray DNA shows up as groups of cells with particular mutations that are absent from the rest of the body. Cells often mutate when they divide, moving parts of one chromosome to fix on another. Some of these have genomes that are shown to come from other people. So, for example, after a baby is born some foetal cells may remain in the mother’s body. It means that most mothers are chimeras.

In his book The Iliad, Homer wrote of fire-breathing monsters that combined a snake, a lion and a goat

220px-Chimera_di_Arezzo  220px-Chimera_Apulia_Louvre_K362  th-4

These creatures were depicted as Arezzo, an Etruscan bronze, and on the Apulian Plate in the Louvre. On the right, above, is Theseus the Minotaur.

For many years, chimeras have been known in plants, occurring naturally and in horticulture from grafts and cuttings. Genes and whole chromosomes may be duplicated or removed.

th-2  250px-Ficus.Benjamina.Chimera

African violets                           Ficus

And they occur in mammals, such as some white mice with patches of back fur and maybe in cattle.

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