Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
EMBO Rep. 2001 May;2(5):376-81.

Ecological fitness, genomic islands and bacterial pathogenicity. A Darwinian view of the evolution of microbes.

Author information

  • 1Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie der Universität Würzburg, Röntgenring 11, 97070 Würzburg, Germany. j..hacker@mail.uni-wuerzburg.de

Abstract

The compositions of bacterial genomes can be changed rapidly and dramatically through a variety of processes including horizontal gene transfer. This form of change is key to bacterial evolution, as it leads to 'evolution in quantum leaps'. Horizontal gene transfer entails the incorporation of genetic elements transferred from another organism-perhaps in an earlier generation-directly into the genome, where they form 'genomic islands', i.e. blocks of DNA with signatures of mobile genetic elements. Genomic islands whose functions increase bacterial fitness, either directly or indirectly, have most likely been positively selected and can be termed 'fitness islands'. Fitness islands can be divided into several subtypes: 'ecological islands' in environmental bacteria and 'saprophytic islands', 'symbiosis islands' or 'pathogenicity islands' (PAIs) in microorganisms that interact with living hosts. Here we discuss ways in which PAIs contribute to the pathogenic potency of bacteria, and the idea that genetic entities similar to genomic islands may also be present in the genomes of eukaryotes.

PMID:
11375927
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1083891
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk