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Will we be able to create mixtures of different species?

Will we be able to mix and match the different species to create a mixture of different species?
Claire Holden from Greater London
age 5-14 (Biology Big Questions)

If we combine human DNA with animals DNA can we create a new species?
Ellie from West Yorkshire (age 5-14)

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2 Responses

  1. To a certain extent, this already happens – horses and donkeys are from different species, but they can produce young – a mule (or an ass). However, mules are infertile (they cannot reproduce), so they might not be considered to be a new species themselves.

  2. To a certain extent it is already possible for us to mix species, well some of their genes at least. Using genetic modification a gene from one species can be put into another. This could be used to introduce several genes, although I don’t know what the limits of this process would be. It is also unlikely to result in a whole new species.
    However, mixing of species does happen in nature. In addition to the horse and donkey example above, the species of wheat that is used to make flour for bread is made of three different species of grass. Although rather than being a mixture, wheat plants in fact carry all of the genes from all three species. There is evidence that wheat doesn’t use all of the genes it has all of the time and so could be seen as a mixture of species. This mixing can be repeated in the laboratory, so yes we can mix species.

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