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Genomics. 2010 Jan;95(1):7-15. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2009.09.002. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Bacterial genomic G+C composition-eliciting environmental adaptation.

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Faculty of Science and Technology, Deakin University, Australia.


Bacterial genomes reflect their adaptation strategies through nucleotide usage trends found in their chromosome composition. Bacteria, unlike eukaryotes contain a wide range of genomic G+C. This wide variability may be viewed as a response to environmental adaptation. Two overarching trends are observed across bacterial genomes, the first, correlates genomic G+C to environmental niches and lifestyle, while the other utilizees intra-genomic G+C incongruence to delineate horizontally transferred material. In this review, we focus on the influence of several properties including biochemical, genetic flows, selection biases, and the biochemical-energetic properties shaping genome composition. Outcomes indicate a trend toward high G+C and larger genomes in free-living organisms, as a result of more complex and varied environments (higher chance for horizontal gene transfer). Conversely, nutrient limiting and nutrient poor environments dictate smaller genomes of low GC in attempts to conserve replication expense. Varied processes including translesion repair mechanisms, phage insertion and cytosine degradation has been shown to introduce higher AT in genomic sequences. We conclude the review with an analysis of current bioinformatics tools seeking to elicit compositional variances and highlight the practical implications when using such techniques.

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