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Mol Microbiol. 1990 Aug;4(8):1329-40.

Evidence for the exchange of segments between genomes during the evolution of lambdoid bacteriophages.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK.


Heteroduplexes between the DNA molecules of 12 lambdoid phages were analysed by electron microscopy. The positions of the regions of base sequence homology between the DNA molecules divide them into 35 segments, most of which have a number of alternative forms (alleles), which in general must be functionally homologous but which differ in base sequence and length. The positions of the boundaries between segments in phage lambda show that each segment is probably a gene or a group of genes, and that each phage genome is a different combination of the alleles of the segments. The frequency of the occurrence of the different alleles indicates that the total number in the natural population may be small. The different combinations of alleles of separate segments, found among the phages, indicate the exchange of segments between the phages during their evolution.

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