MadSci Network: Molecular Biology

Re: Do humans and Plants share any genes?

Date: Mon Sep 19 10:29:59 2005
Posted By: Allen Gathman, Faculty, Biology, Southeast MO St. U.
Area of science: Molecular Biology
ID: 1123762878.Mb

I previously wrote a discussion of comparison of plant and animal genomes
in another MadSci
post, as you've mentioned.  In that one I suggested using the NCBI homologene
tool to make this comparison.  This tool does overall comparisons of
predicted proteins from two species, but it only gives a limited set of
choices for those species, and the only plant available is
Arabidopsis .  

The rice genome has been compared in various places with the
Arabidopsis genome, notably by the workers who released the rice
genome themselves.  In the paper describing the first draft sequence of the
rice genome, Yu et al. (Science. 2002 Apr 5;296(5565):79-92) point out
that, while the vast majority of Arabadopsis genes are found in the
rice genome, there are many more genes in the rice genome that don't appear
in Arabidopsis.  

I can't find any direct full comparison of rice and human genomes.  A powerpoint on "alignment"
from the Natural History Museum of Britain contains a table that shows
a distance matrix that includes a distance value of 122.6 for the human and
rice genomes (compared to a distance of 3.3 for human and monkey), so you
can see we're not all that close.  

Still, you're asking whether the rice genome sheds any new light on the
human/plant evolutionary distance.  I'd guess that the rice/human distance
is rather similar to the Arabidopsis/human distance.  My reasoning
is this:  Most of the Arabidopsis genes are found in rice.  Second,
the additional genes in rice are probably the result of gene duplications
(see Yu et al. 2002), so they're unlikely to be any more similar to human
genes than the rest of the genome is.  

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