This article is a short review of information about horizontal gene transfer, also called cross-species gene transfer, found on the internet and a discussion of the effect on the wild-type gene pool. It is known for about 20 years now that bacteria and viruses have the capability of inserting foreign DNA in other species cells. This cross-species gene transfer was formerly part of the mechanisms of natural evolution. But since the era of genetic engineering this mechanism is also used for spreading manipulated genes. Sometimes transgenic organisms escape from laboratories or from Biotechnological industries, but most of time they are let loose in the wild, like genetically manipulated crops or ranches with transgenic animals. They also make use of cross species gene transfer. This will result in pollution of the wild-type gene pool, leading to a change or loss of or last biodiversity. A hypothesis is launched that also the genomes of cells of the reproductive system of plants and animals can get genetically infected, like pollen, sperm and ova cells, just as is demonstrated for other parts of organisms, leading also to vertical gene transfer of foreign DNA, finally resulting in altering the genetics of all members of a species. This could also lead to losing parts of the wild-type gene pool. Because I am not anti-Biotechnology per se and also because, according to Greek Mythology, the Hope For A Better World remained in the box of Pandora after it was opened, I plea in this article for healthy Biotechnological, Scientific and Commercial endeavours with restrictions:
1) All biowaste from Biotechnological industries and laboratories should be incinerated or irradiated.
2) All transgenic plants should only be kept in greenhouses under quarantine conditions.
3) All transgenic life stock should be kept in a stable under quarantine conditions.
4) All biowaste from transgenic plant or animal farms should be incinerated or irradiated.
5) No products derived by means of genetic manipulation should be used anywhere in the food chain. As an alternative GM foods could be irradiated. But this is a bit controversial because of the radiolytic products formed.
6) Non-food products like medicines and polymers from genetic manipulation should certainly be irradiated to kill all active genetic germs.
These measures should be in effect until the time that Biotechnology has evolved so far that all the genomes that make up the wild-type gene pool have been collected and mapped in computer databases, and that mankind is capable of reconstructing wildlife from genomic databases. These measures are also in the best interests of Science who always will want to study how natural evolution tackled certain problems. Biotechnology should be more a fundamental Science and less a commercial enterprise!
Since the era of Biotechnology evolution has come to a new level. You could also say that evolution has created a species that can control the course of evolution by manipulating genes in the laboratory. This could also lead to the end of the Darwinistic “Survival of the Fittest” because a perfect fit of every organism could be artificially made for each environment. Is this the by natures laws intended end goal of evolution? I think not! The natural “Survival of the Fittest” mechanism will always outsmart scientists, because there is no laboratory as big as our planet. Although Biotechnologists are already interfering with natural evolution, on a large scale but it will even grow in the future if Biotechnology can go on unlimited, as I will make clear in this article. This accelerated and manipulated evolution can backfire on mankind!