ASM News Volume 71 Number 9, 2005

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Genetic exchanges among prokaryotes, formerly considered only a marginal phenomenon, increasingly are being viewed as profoundly affecting evolution. Indeed, some researchers argue for utterly revamping our concept of microbial speciation and phylogeny by replacing the traditional ''tree'' with a newer ''net'' to account for these horizontal transfers of genes. This conceptual ferment is occurring while molecular biologists reveal how horizontal gene transfers occur even as microbes protect the integrity of their genomes. Other studies reveal the number and diversity and abundance of genetic elements that mediate horizontal gene transfers (HGTs) or facilitate genome rearrangements, deletions, and insertions. Taken together, this ... continued below

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412-419

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Smets, Tamar Barkay and Barth F. January 1, 2005.

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Description

Genetic exchanges among prokaryotes, formerly considered only a marginal phenomenon, increasingly are being viewed as profoundly affecting evolution. Indeed, some researchers argue for utterly revamping our concept of microbial speciation and phylogeny by replacing the traditional ''tree'' with a newer ''net'' to account for these horizontal transfers of genes. This conceptual ferment is occurring while molecular biologists reveal how horizontal gene transfers occur even as microbes protect the integrity of their genomes. Other studies reveal the number and diversity and abundance of genetic elements that mediate horizontal gene transfers (HGTs) or facilitate genome rearrangements, deletions, and insertions. Taken together, this information suggests that microbial communities collectively possess a dynamic gene pool, where novel genetic combinations act as a driving force in genomic innovation, compensating individual microbial species for their inability to reproduce sexually. These microbial genomic dynamics can present both environmental threats and promise to humans. One major threat, for example, comes from the spread of antibiotic resistance and virulence genes among pathogenic microbes. Another less-documented issue involves transgenic plants and animals, whose uses are being restricted because of concerns that genes may be transferred to untargeted organisms where they might cause harm. A possible benefit from HGT comes from its potential to enhance the functional diversity of microbial communities and to improve their performance in changing or extreme environments. Such changes might be exploited, for example, as part of efforts to manage environmental pollution and might be achieved by spreading genes into resident microbes to confer specific biochemical activities.

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412-419

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  • Journal Name: ASM News; Journal Volume: 71; Journal Issue: Number 9, 2005

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  • Report No.: Final Technical Report
  • Grant Number: FG02-04ER63716
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 897107
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc881534

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • January 1, 2005

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 7:07 p.m.

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Smets, Tamar Barkay and Barth F. ASM News Volume 71 Number 9, 2005, article, January 1, 2005; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc881534/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.