Usually only microbes, specifically bacteria are used to express genes of other species for various functions. But, it is possible to try and express an animal gene into a plant. Bacteria like Bacillus thuringiensis is used in many plants like cotton, to modify them to BT cotton with insecticidal properties. Can one use an animal gene to get those characteristics in the plant?

  • $\begingroup$ What kinds of characteristics you are looking for ? I mean you can express successfully lot of animal proteins, pharmaceuticals and antigens into plant (Julian KC 2003). But I don't think they are any way important to plants. $\endgroup$
    – Dexter
    Nov 22, 2015 at 10:48

2 Answers 2


A few years ago plant scientists introduced a protein (afa3)in tomato from Winter Flounder, a type of fish surviving freezing conditions. The idea was to make a frost resistant tomato but I believe they did not have much success. Anti-GMO activists had a field day however with baseless claims of making tomato's smell like fish and other nonesense.

  • $\begingroup$ I was looking at adding a particular gene of the penguin that makes its skin thick to survive the winter, in a cotton plant. Do you think that could work? $\endgroup$
    – MPG
    Nov 22, 2015 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know much about pinguin skin but I know it is very very different compared to plant epidermis. It seems rather unlikely but it all depends on the gene $\endgroup$
    – mimat
    Nov 22, 2015 at 17:32

One example that I am aware of where an animal transgene was put into a plant was to produce the ZMapp, a chimeric, monoclonal antibody against the Ebola virus.

This is a wikipedia article on ZMapp, that gives you an idea of the process.

Other than this, I am not all that familiar with plant transgenics, other than Round Up resistance genes that were transfected from soil bacteria that developed a resistance to the active chemical in Round Up.

Hopefully other answers can provide you with more details, but these are the two examples that I know off the top of my head.


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