Plant genetics: gene transfer from parasitic to host plants

Nature. 2004 Nov 11;432(7014):165-6. doi: 10.1038/432165b.


Plant mitochondrial genes are transmitted horizontally across mating barriers with surprising frequency, but the mechanism of transfer is unclear. Here we describe two new cases of horizontal gene transfer, from parasitic flowering plants to their host flowering plants, and present phylogenetic and biogeographic evidence that this occurred as a result of direct physical contact between the two. Our findings complement the discovery that genes can be transferred in the opposite direction, from host to parasite plant.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cuscuta / classification
  • Cuscuta / cytology
  • Cuscuta / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal / genetics*
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Diseases / genetics*
  • Plant Diseases / parasitology*
  • Plantago / classification
  • Plantago / cytology
  • Plantago / genetics*
  • Plantago / parasitology*
  • Pseudogenes / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial