Comparative analysis of bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic genomes indicates that a significant fraction of the genes in the prokaryotic genomes have been subject to horizontal transfer. In some cases, the amount and source of horizontal gene transfer can be linked to an organism's lifestyle. For example, bacterial hyperthermophiles seem to have exchanged genes with archaea to a greater extent than other bacteria, whereas transfer of certain classes of eukaryotic genes is most common in parasitic and symbiotic bacteria. Horizontal transfer events can be classified into distinct categories of acquisition of new genes, acquisition of paralogs of existing genes, and xenologous gene displacement whereby a gene is displaced by a horizontally transferred ortholog from another lineage (xenolog). Each of these types of horizontal gene transfer is common among prokaryotes, but their relative contributions differ in different lineages. The fixation and long-term persistence of horizontally transferred genes suggests that they confer a selective advantage on the recipient organism. In most cases, the nature of this advantage remains unclear, but detailed examination of several cases of acquisition of eukaryotic genes by bacteria seems to reveal the evolutionary forces involved. Examples include isoleucyl-tRNA synthetases whose acquisition from eukaryotes by several bacteria is linked to antibiotic resistance, ATP/ADP translocases acquired by intracellular parasitic bacteria, Chlamydia and Rickettsia, apparently from plants, and proteases that may be implicated in chlamydial pathogenesis.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error