Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene 'relocation' key to most evolutionary change in bacteria

Date:
January 30, 2011
Source:
University of Maryland
Summary:
Scientists have now shown that bacteria evolve new abilities, such as antibiotic resistance, predominantly by acquiring genes from other bacteria. The researchers new insights into the evolution of bacteria partly contradict the widely accepted theory that new biological functions in bacteria and other microbes arise primarily through the process of gene duplication within the same organism.

A small clustered group of Gram-positive, beta-hemolytic Group C Streptococcus sp. bacteria.
Credit: Janice Haney Carr, CDC

In a new study, scientists at the University of Maryland and the Institut Pasteur show that bacteria evolve new abilities, such as antibiotic resistance, predominantly by acquiring genes from other bacteria.

The researchers new insights into the evolution of bacteria partly contradict the widely accepted theory that new biological functions in bacteria and other microbes arise primarily through the process of gene duplication within the same organism. Their just released study will be published in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics on January 27.

Microbes live and thrive in incredibly diverse and harsh conditions, from boiling or freezing water to the human immune system. This remarkable adaptability results from their ability to quickly modify their repertoire of protein functions by gaining, losing and modifying their genes. Microbes were known to modify genes to expand their repertoire of protein families in two ways: via duplication processes followed by slow functional specialization, in the same way as large multicellular organisms like us, and by acquiring different genes directly from other microbes. The latter process, known as horizontal gene transfer, is notoriously conspicuous in the spread of antibiotic resistance, turning some bacteria into drug-resistant 'superbugs' such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a serious public health concern.

The researchers examined a large database of microbial genomes, including some of the most virulent human pathogens, to discover whether duplication or horizontal gene transfer was the most common expansion method. Their study shows that gene family expansion can indeed follow both routes, but unlike in large multicellular organisms, it predominantly takes place by horizontal transfer.

First author Todd Treangen, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Maryland Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and co-author Eduardo P. C. Rocha of the Institut Pasteur conclude that because microbes invented the majority of life's biochemical diversity -- from respiration to photosynthesis --, "the study of the evolution of biology systems should explicitly account for the predominant role of horizontal gene transfer in the diversification of protein families."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Todd J. Treangen, Eduardo P. C. Rocha. Horizontal Transfer, Not Duplication, Drives the Expansion of Protein Families in Prokaryotes. PLoS Genetics, 2011; 7 (1): e1001284 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001284

Cite This Page:

University of Maryland. "Gene 'relocation' key to most evolutionary change in bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127205845.htm>.
University of Maryland. (2011, January 30). Gene 'relocation' key to most evolutionary change in bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127205845.htm
University of Maryland. "Gene 'relocation' key to most evolutionary change in bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127205845.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins