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J Mol Evol. 2006 Dec;63(6):801-14. Epub 2006 Nov 2.

The frequency of eubacterium-to-eukaryote lateral gene transfers shows significant cross-taxa variation within amoebozoa.

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  • 1Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, Child & Family Research Institute, and Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Z 4H4, Canada. rwatkins@cmmt.ubc.ca


Single-celled bacterivorous eukaryotes offer excellent test cases for evaluation of the frequency of prey-to-predator lateral gene transfer (LGT). Here we use analysis of expressed sequence tag (EST) data sets to quantify the extent of LGT from eubacteria to two amoebae, Acanthamoeba castellanii and Hartmannella vermiformis. Stringent screening for LGT proceeded in several steps intended to enrich for authentic events while at the same time minimizing the incidence of false positives due to factors such as limitations in database coverage and ancient paralogy. The results were compared with data obtained when the same methodology was applied to EST libraries from a number of other eukaryotic taxa. Significant differences in the extent of apparent eubacterium-to-eukaryote LGT were found between taxa. Our results indicate that there may be substantial inter-taxon variation in the number of LGT events that become fixed even between amoebozoan species that have similar feeding modalities.

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