Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29018197
Nat Commun 2017 Oct;8(1):841
Bacterial adaptation is accelerated by the acquisition of novel traits through horizontal gene transfer, but the integration of these genes affects genome organization. We found that transferred genes are concentrated in only ~1% of the chromosomal regions (hotspots) in 80 bacterial species. This concentration increases with genome size and with the rate of transfer. Hotspots diversify by rapid gene turnover; their chromosomal distribution depends on local contexts (neighboring core genes), and content in mobile genetic elements. Hotspots concentrate most changes in gene repertoires, reduce the trade-off between genome diversification and organization, and should be treasure troves of strain-specific adaptive genes. Most mobile genetic elements and antibiotic resistance genes are in hotspots, but many hotspots lack recognizable mobile genetic elements and exhibit frequent homologous recombination at flanking core genes. Overrepresentation of hotspots with fewer mobile genetic elements in naturally transformable bacteria suggests that homologous recombination and horizontal gene transfer are tightly linked in genome evolution.Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is an important mechanism for genome evolution and adaptation in bacteria. Here, Oliveira and colleagues find HGT hotspots comprising ~ 1% of the chromosomal regions in 80 bacterial species.