Lateral transfer of genetic information

Petr Sima, Luca Vannucci, Vaclav Vetvicka

Institute of Microbiology, Laboratory of Immunotherapy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic. Department of Pathology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA


From the original findings of genes persists a dogma suggesting that each organism has only one, i.e., its own, genome. Also persistent was the assumption that every evolutionary mechanism and development of new species was the result of gene recombination and/or new genetic mutations transferred vertically, from parents to offspring. The idea of endosymbiosis as a co-existence of taxonomically distinct organisms emerged more than 100 years ago. It was based on microscopic observations showing that some organisms are contained inside other organisms. These observations suggested that during evolution organisms were able to incorporate (both inside their internal milieu and inside their cells) organisms with different genomes, using direct horizontal processes across the species barriers. Numerous subsequent studies brought direct proof that this horizontal transfer of genes is quite common among microbes. Similarly, clear proof exists that these processes also occurred in many currently living multicellular organisms. More and more biologists now believe that horizontal transfer of genetic information significantly influenced formation of new characteristics and subsequently an evolution of new species. Journal of Nature and Science, 1(4):e87, 2015

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