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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1999 Dec;9(6):664-71.

Insights into the evolutionary process of genome degradation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Evolution, Uppsala University, Biomedical Center, Box 590, Uppsala, 751 24, Sweden.


Studies of noncoding and pseudogene sequence diversity, particularly in Rickettsia, have begun to reveal the basic principles of genome degradation in microorganisms. Increasingly, studies of genes and genomes suggest that there has been an extensive amount of horizontal gene transfer among microorganisms. As this inflow of genetic material does not seem generally to have resulted in genome size expansions, however, degenerative processes must be at the very least as widespread as horizontal gene transfer. The basic principles of gene degradation and elimination that are being explored in Rickettsia are likely to be of major importance for our understanding of how microbial genomes evolve.

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