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 April 20, 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 April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. 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