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The genomes of some red algae may lend support to the controversial notion that eukaryotes sometimes take needed genes from bacteria, though not everyone is convinced, Science reports.

Researchers from the US and Germany analyzed the genomes of 13 lineages of Cyanidiales, a clade of red algae that live in extreme habitats like thermal vents and acid mining sites. As the researchers report in a preprint posted to BioRxiv, they found that 1 percent of these Cyanidiales' genes is derived from horizontal gene transfer. In particular, they uncovered 96 orthogroups containing 641 single horizontal gene transfer candidates.

They note that many of these horizontal gene transfer events seem to come from prokaryotes that living in the same environment and appear to aid the algae in adapting to that extreme environment.

While Oklahoma State University's Gerald Schoenknecht tells Science that the group's findings should end the argument that previous finding have all been due to contamination, the University of Dusseldorf's William Martin is not convinced. He says that the researchers looked for what he thinks would occur in the wake of such a transfer, "but they do not find it."

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