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PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(6):e1002745. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002745. Epub 2012 Jun 14.

A high-resolution view of genome-wide pneumococcal transformation.

Author information

1
Pathogen Genomics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, United Kingdom. nc3@sanger.ac.uk

Abstract

Transformation is an important mechanism of microbial evolution through which bacteria have been observed to rapidly adapt in response to clinical interventions; examples include facilitating vaccine evasion and the development of penicillin resistance in the major respiratory pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. To characterise the process in detail, the genomes of 124 S. pneumoniae isolates produced through in vitro transformation were sequenced and recombination events detected. Those recombinations importing the selected marker were independent of unselected events elsewhere in the genome, the positions of which were not significantly affected by local sequence similarity between donor and recipient or mismatch repair processes. However, both types of recombinations were sometimes mosaic, with multiple non-contiguous segments originating from the same molecule of donor DNA. The lengths of the unselected events were exponentially distributed with a mean of 2.3 kb, implying that recombinations are stochastically resolved with a fixed per base probability of 4.4×10(-4) bp(-1). This distribution of recombination sizes, coupled with an observed under representation of large insertions within transferred sequence, suggests transformation has the potential to reduce the size of bacterial genomes, and is unlikely to act as an efficient mechanism for the uptake of accessory genomic loci.

PMID:
22719250
PMCID:
PMC3375284
DOI:
10.1371/journal.ppat.1002745
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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