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EMBO J. 2000 Dec 15;19(24):6637-43.

Evolutionary dynamics of full genome content in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA. hochman@email.arizona.edu


The evolutionary history of the entire Escherichia coli chromosome was traced by examining the distribution of the approximately 4300 open reading frames (ORFs) from E.coli MG1655 among strains of known genealogical relationships. Using this framework to deduce the incidence of gene transfer and gene loss, a total of 67 events-37 additions and 30 deletions-were required to account for the distribution of all genes now present in the MG1655 chromosome. Nearly 90% of the ORFs were common to all strains examined, but, given the variation in gene content and chromosome size, strains can contain well over a megabase of unique DNA, conferring traits that distinguish them from other members of the species. Moreover, strains vary widely in their frequencies of deletions, which probably accounts for the variation in genome size within the species.

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