Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2003 Jun;14(3):262-9.

The role of mobile genetic elements in bacterial adaptation to xenobiotic organic compounds.

Author information

Department of Biological Sciences, 347 Life Sciences Building South, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA.


Retrospective studies clearly indicate that mobile genetic elements (MGEs) play a major role in the in situ spread and even de novo construction of catabolic pathways in bacteria, allowing bacterial communities to rapidly adapt to new xenobiotics. The construction of novel pathways seems to occur by an assembly process that involves horizontal gene transfer: different appropriate genes or gene modules that encode different parts of the novel pathway are recruited from phylogenetically related or distant hosts into one single host. Direct evidence for the importance of catabolic MGEs in bacterial adaptation to xenobiotics stems from observed correlations between catabolic gene transfer and accelerated biodegradation in several habitats and from studies that monitor catabolic MGEs in polluted sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center