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Bacterial Hopscotch

When researchers talk about personal genomics, they likely aren't talking about this: A team at Northwestern University analyzed the genome sequence of 14 gonorrhea samples and found a human fragment of DNA in three of the isolates, reports New Scientist's Jessica Hamzelou. In their study published in mBio, the researchers say the DNA jump happened via horizontal gene transfer, but add that they've never seen DNA from a mammalian genome jump to a bacterial genome. What role the human DNA plays in the bacterium is still unknown — it's missing key sequences and isn't producing any functional proteins — but the discovery could have implications for how the bacteria adapt to the host, the researchers tells Hamzelou.