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Prof. Ralf Reski and his team of scientists at the University of Freiburg have been dealing with the function of moss for many years. The plant biologist has now uncovered impressive evidence of the relationship between mosses and other organisms.
The researchers, whose findings were recently published in the scientific journal "Plant Biotechnology Journal", discovered that key components of the mammalian transcription, translation and secretion machineries are also fully functional in the moss Physcomitrella patens. "Although humans and mosses are very different from each other, they have surprising genetic similarities in that they have the same molecular components (eds. notes: promoters, polyadenylation sites)," said Reski further explaining that this finding supports Darwin's evolutionary theory according to which all living organisms emerged from one common ancestor. Reski's team are using the moss as a "living laboratory". "Our findings bring us a decisive step forward in synthetic biology which enables us to shape natural processes in a way that allows us to optimally control and use these processes," explains Reski. Working in close cooperation with biologists, chemists and engineers, including researchers from "bioss", the first excellence cluster in Freiburg that focuses on synthetic biology, the findings gained from moss research create an important basis for understanding complex biological systems. "We are using our detailed knowledge of Physcomitrella patens in a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) where we are focusing on developing new drug production methods," said Reski. This shows that, despite their advanced age, mosses have not lost their attraction and will most likely play an important role in the lives of humans and not just remain something pleasant to look at in forests and gardens.
Marc Gitzinger, Dr. Juliana Parsons, Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski and Prof. Dr. Martin Fussenegger, "Functional cross-kingdom conservation of mammalian and moss (Physcomitrella patens) transcription, translation and secretion machineries", Plant Biotechnology Journal.
Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski
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