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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2009;63:177-93. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.091208.073203.

Gene transfer and diversification of microbial eukaryotes.

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  • Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Uppsala University, Uppsala S-752 36, Sweden. Jan.Andersson@ebc.uu.se


The importance of lateral gene transfer in genome evolution of microbial eukaryotes is slowly being appreciated. Acquisitions of genes have led to metabolic adaptation in diverse eukaryotic lineages. In most cases the metabolic genes have originated from prokaryotes, often followed by sequential transfers between eukaryotes. However, the knowledge of gene transfer in eukaryotes is still mainly based on anecdotal evidence. Some of the observed patterns may be biases in experimental approaches and sequence databases rather than evolutionary trends. Rigorous systematic studies of gene acquisitions that allow for the possibility of exchanges of all categories of genes from all sources are needed to get a more objective view of gene transfer in eukaryote evolution. It may be that the role of gene transfer in the diversification process of microbial eukaryotes currently is underestimated.

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