Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 15149018
Int. J. Med. Microbiol. 2004 Apr;293(7-8):453-61
The growing knowledge of genetic diversity and whole genome organization in bacteria shows that pathogenicity islands (PAIs) represent a subtype of a more general genetic element, termed genomic island (GEI), which is widespread among pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes. These findings mirror the importance of horizontal gene transfer, genome reduction and recombination events as fundamental mechanisms involved in evolution of bacterial variants. GEIs are part of the flexible gene pool and carry selfish genes, but also determinants which may be beneficial under certain conditions thus increasing bacterial fitness and consequently their survival or transmission. In this review, we focus on the role of mobile genetic elements that may also contain toxin-encoding genes for genome variability and evolution of bacteria.