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Biology As Entertainment

Give species proliferation a helping hand.
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More & more species are going extinct & there are seemingly fewer & fewer interesting ones out there, if we don't do something soon it's all going to get a bit boring, & reality TV really isn't the answer.

What we need is a bit more uncertainty in life to spice things up, make it interesting again.

The boys in the lab at Skewed Ecological Solutions (TM), entertainments division, have been hard at work on the problem & we can now proudly unveil the results.

A genetically modified retrovirus capable of survival in a wide range of environments & vectors (that's species to you & me) that heads straight for the gonads, specifically the seminiferous tubules of the testes.

We've managed to significantly enhance its propensity for horizontal gene transfer in both directions.

The resulting new material passed across can be somewhat random of course & most are impractical but occasionally we get some really interesting results.

Some of them have even survived a few hours after birth, we're expecting something viable any day now.

Unfortunately we've got as far as we can with the limited resources available in the lab, so in the interests of securing a broader sample base (as cheaply as possible) we had our middle east partners 'release it into the wild' last Wednesday.

We had to tell them it was anthrax to encourage their cooperation of course but rest assured it's perfectly safe, the fever only lasts a few days & the lab boys asure me the pustules are nothing to worry about, & may even go down, eventually.

Skewed, Oct 14 2019

Retrovirus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrovirus
WikipediA [Skewed, Oct 14 2019]

Spermatogenesis https://en.wikipedi...iki/Spermatogenesis
WikipediA [Skewed, Oct 14 2019]

Horizontal gene transfer https://en.wikipedi...ontal_gene_transfer
WikipediA [Skewed, Oct 14 2019]

[link]






       Why?
Frankx, Oct 14 2019
  

       Reality TV.   

       No, wait, that wasn't the answer.
pertinax, Oct 14 2019
  

       The proposal is to solve the problem of mass extinction by ensuring that the next offspring of the last breeding pair of something critically endangered is an unviable mutant. It's hard to understand why this isn't being done already.
pertinax, Oct 14 2019
  

       Reality TV is never the answer.
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       Beautifully put [Pert] but you missed the bit where it's entire genome is now scattered in untold trillions of virion seeking the gonads of species all over the shop.. sooner or later it's bound to all come together & pop up again.   

       So can anything ever really be called extinct now?   

       We think not.
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       //proposal is to solve the problem of mass extinction//   

       Actually I just got tired of turning the leaves of my animal mix up flip book by hand, this way I can just sit in front of the window & see what wanders by.
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       //Why?//   

       See above, it's also right there in the title, we got bored.
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       I can't bun this because it's terrible, but I can't bone this because it's terrible.
Voice, Oct 14 2019
  

       Success! confused ambivalence, just what I hoped for.
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       I think we could go quite a long way by artificially hybridising things. Quite a lot of species (and I'm talking about animals - plants even more so) will hybridise within one genus if encouraged; there are also a few intergeneric hybrids. But these are just the tip of a furry iceberg.   

       Most hybridisations never happen for the simple reason that the two species never meet; or they have incompatible mating rituals; or their genitalia just don't fit together nicely. But with IVF, we can try a whole gamut of interspecific (and even intergeneric) crosses. The vast majority will still fail due to significantly different karyotypes, but a small proportion will succeed.   

       And, once we've got a decent number of viable hybrids, we can go further, crossing them to other hybrids or other pure species. Llama-camel hybrids are viable; perhaps we can go from those to a vicuna-llamel, and thence eventually to a giraffo-vlamel.   

       We could end up with owl-pigeons, tortiose-snakes, giraffolamas.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2019
  

       "What do we want?"
"Hippogriffs!"
  

       "When do we want them?"
"As soon as the intergeneric furry iceberg of significantly different karyotype hybridisations will allow!"
  

       //Hippogriffs!// Hey! That was meant to be a top secret program!
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2019
  

       //Hippogriffs//   

       An extra set of limbs is a whole other ball game.   

       And (unfortunately) one neither my retrovirus nor your hybrid breeding plan is equipped to play.
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       Well, admittedly it's a long stretch from fruit flies to large mammals, but enough intermediates should do the job.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2019
  

       Are the fruit fly genetic instructions for "build limb here" sufficiently similar to tetrapods that an otherwise overtly mammalian (or bird) genome will recognise & be able to incorporate them in the fashion imagined here?
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       "Similar" is a strong word, [Stewed]. We all (that is, us fruit flies and mammals) use lots of similar homeotic (body- planning) genes, though. You can drop mouse homeotic genes into fruit flies and they work OK.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2019
  

       I know we share vast amounts of data (what is it, 50% cabbage?).   

       And that transposed code for proteins almost invariably seem to work even across kingdoms.   

       But I don't think the last common ancestor of chordata & invertebrates had limbs did it? certainly the earliest chordate I know of didn't.   

       Which suggested to me limbs maybe developed separately in both after the split, so no guarantee same (or transposable) code used if they did?
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       //You can drop mouse homeotic genes into fruit flies and they work OK//   

       Did you get four legged wingless fruit flies then?
Skewed, Oct 14 2019
  

       No, because the arrangement of the homeotic genes in flies is set up for six legs; just substituting one of the genes doesn't change that. But you can, of course, make flies with an extra set of wings, or with legs where antennae should be.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2019
  

       Both silly & impressive :) but //the arrangement of homeostatic genes// in tetrapods?   

       What structures around the right spot in horses could we splice an extra set of limbs into that way?   

       And could either of our methods (random horizontal transfer or repeat hybridization) plausible achieve that?
Skewed, Oct 15 2019
  
      
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