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J Bacteriol. 2005 Jul;187(14):4935-44.

Gene transfer and genome plasticity in Thermotoga maritima, a model hyperthermophilic species.

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  • 1The Institute for Genomic Research, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


The genome sequence of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima MSB8 presents evidence for lateral gene transfer events between bacterial and archaeal species. To estimate the extent of genomic diversity across the order Thermotogales, a comparative genomic hybridization study was initiated to compare nine Thermotoga strains to the sequenced T. maritima MSB8. Many differences could be associated with substrate utilization patterns, which are most likely a reflection of the environmental niche that these individual species occupy. A detailed analysis of some of the predicted variable regions demonstrates many examples of the deletion/insertion of complete cassettes of genes and of gene rearrangements and insertions of DNA within genes, with the C or N terminus being retained. Although the mechanism for gene transfer in this lineage remains to be elucidated, this analysis suggests possible associations with repetitive elements and highlights the possible benefits of rampant genetic exchange to these species.

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