Transposons in Higher Life Forms

Transposons are scattered throughout the DNA of all forms of life. Although we have used examples from bacteria to illustrate how they work, Barbara McClintock observed the first jumping genes during genetic crosses in maize (corn) plants. She worked in the 1940's before the DNA double helix was even discovered, but nonetheless realized that segments of the plant genetic material must be moving around. When she presented her conclusions in public, in 1951, no one believed her. Later investigations in bacteria revealed the molecular details of transposition, and confirmed what Barbara McClintock had observed in the 1940s. Barbara McClintock received her Nobel Prize in 1983 when the significance of her work was more fully realized.

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