Research Topic

Horizontal Gene Transfer in Microbes

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Many microbial species have the remarkable ability to undergo re-assortment and integration of novel DNA segments into their genome in a process called horizontal gene transfer (HGT), which can greatly impact the ecology and evolution of the species. HGT essentially breaks down the genome into many small ...

Many microbial species have the remarkable ability to undergo re-assortment and integration of novel DNA segments into their genome in a process called horizontal gene transfer (HGT), which can greatly impact the ecology and evolution of the species. HGT essentially breaks down the genome into many small segments, such that the genealogical history of any one gene may be different from the histories of other genes in the genome or even of the organism itself. Extensive HGT can also result to genetic clusters with indistinct or fuzzy taxonomic boundaries, which can affect diversity estimates in any setting. The introduction of new allelic variants through homologous recombination or acquisition of new genes into a recipient genome can also facilitate major changes in phenotypic characteristics, metabolic versatility, and ecological niches of recipient lineages. In many microbial species, HGT plays a fundamental role in generating genetic variation more rapidly than by mutation alone, and these variants can facilitate the emergence and spread of resistance to host immune systems and drug therapies, epidemic outbreaks, effective transmission between hosts and adaptation to new ecological niches.

This Frontiers Research Topic encourages the collection of original research articles, method articles, protocols, and reviews that explore the dynamics, mechanisms and barriers of HGT within and between species and populations of microbes, spanning a variety of habitats and ranging from millimeter to global scales. We welcome studies on different species of microbes across the tree of life and in microbiomes, including viruses. We also encourage submissions that highlight microbes that colonize or infect humans, animals, plants or other eukaryotes. The subject areas of interest include, but are not limited to, understanding the role of HGT in:

-Generating cosmopolitan and endemic patterns of microbe distribution
-Disseminating microbes and their genes within and between locations
-Altering the composition and distribution of microbial gene pools (core genes, accessory genes, and mobile elements) Local adaptation and population assembly
-Lineage diversification and species formation


Keywords: Horizontal gene transfer, adaptation, genome, evolution


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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