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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2001 Nov;21(2):259-69.

Detection of homologous recombination among bacteriophage P2 relatives.

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Department of Genetics, University of Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


Sequencing of five late genes from 18 isolates of P2-like bacteriophages showed that these are at least 96% identical to the genes of phage P2. A maximum-parsimony phylogenetic analysis of these genes showed excess homoplasy of a magnitude three to six times higher than that expected. Examination of the distribution of the number of homoplasies at parsimoniously informative sites and incompatibility matrices of such sites revealed a pattern typical for extensive recombination. It has been shown that phage P2 probably incorporated some functionally complete genes or gene modules by recombination with other phages or with different hosts, but homologous recombination within genes has previously not been shown. In this paper we demonstrate that homologous recombination between P2-like bacteriophages occurs randomly at multiple breakpoints in five late genes. The rate of recombination is high but, since some phages were sampled decades apart and in different parts of the world, this has to be viewed on an evolutionary time scale. The applicability of different methods used for detection of recombination breakpoints and estimation of rates of recombination in bacteriophages is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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