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Proc Biol Sci. 2010 Mar 22;277(1683):819-27. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1679. Epub 2009 Oct 28.

Horizontal gene transfer in evolution: facts and challenges.

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  • 1Departamento Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, C/José Gutierrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain. mcnb119@mncn.csic.es

Abstract

The contribution of horizontal gene transfer to evolution has been controversial since it was suggested to be a force driving evolution in the microbial world. In this paper, I review the current standpoint on horizontal gene transfer in evolutionary thinking and discuss how important horizontal gene transfer is in evolution in the broad sense, and particularly in prokaryotic evolution. I review recent literature, asking, first, which processes are involved in the evolutionary success of transferred genes and, secondly, about the extent of horizontal gene transfer towards different evolutionary times. Moreover, I discuss the feasibility of reconstructing ancient phylogenetic relationships in the face of horizontal gene transfer. Finally, I discuss how horizontal gene transfer fits in the current neo-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm and conclude there is a need for a new evolutionary paradigm that includes horizontal gene transfer as well as other mechanisms in the explanation of evolution.

PMID:
19864285
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2842723
Free PMC Article
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