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Genome Biol Evol. 2014 Aug 30;6(9):2489-500. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evu175.

Genomic signatures of distributive conjugal transfer among mycobacteria.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Microbiology Doctoral Training Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2
Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Wisconsin-Madison cspepper@medicine.wisc.edu.

Abstract

Distributive conjugal transfer (DCT) is a newly described mechanism of lateral gene transfer (LGT) that results in a mosaic transconjugant structure, similar to the products of meiosis. We have tested popular LGT detection methods on whole-genome sequence data from experimental DCT transconjugants and used the best performing methods to compare genomic signatures of DCT with those of LGT through natural transformation, conjugative plasmids, and mobile genetic elements (MGE). We found that DCT results in transfer of larger chromosomal segments, that these segments are distributed more broadly around the chromosome, and that a greater proportion of the chromosome is affected by DCT than by other mechanisms of LGT. We used the best performing methods to characterize LGT in Mycobacterium canettii, the mycobacterial species most closely related to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Patterns of LGT among M. canettii were highly distinctive. Gene flow appeared unidirectional, from lineages with minimal evidence of LGT to isolates with a substantial proportion (6-13%) of sites identified as recombinant. Among M. canettii isolates with evidence of LGT, recombinant fragments were larger and more evenly distributed relative to bacteria that undergo LGT through natural transformation, conjugative plasmids, and MGE. Spatial bias in M. canettii was also unusual in that patterns of recombinant fragment sharing mirrored overall phylogenetic structure. Based on the proportion of recombinant sites, the size of recombinant fragments, their spatial distribution and lack of association with MGE, as well as unidirectionality of DNA transfer, we conclude that DCT is the predominant mechanism of LGT among M. canettii.

KEYWORDS:

Mycobacterium canettii; evolution; lateral gene transfer; mycobacteria

PMID:
25173757
PMCID:
PMC4202316
DOI:
10.1093/gbe/evu175
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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