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Mol Biol Evol. 1996 Jan;13(1):47-55.

Gene transfer is a major factor in bacterial evolution.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Lateral gene transfer in four strains of Salmonella enterica has been assessed using genomic subtraction. Strain LT2 (subspecies I serovar Typhimurium) chromosomal DNA was used as target and subtracted by three subspecies I strains of serovars Typhimurium (S21), Muenchen (S71), Typhi (M229), and a subspecies V strain (M321). Data from probing random cosmids of LT2 DNA with preparations of the residual LT2 DNA after subtraction were used to estimate the amounts of LT2 DNA not able to hybridize to strains S21, S71, M229, and M321 to be in the range of 84-106, 191-355, 305-629, and 778-1,286 kb, respectively. Several lines of evidence indicate that most of this DNA is from genes not present in strain M321 and not from genes that have diverged in sequence. The amounts correlate with the divergence of the four strains as revealed by multilocus enzyme electrophoresis and sequence variation of housekeeping genes. Sequence of 39 of the fragments from the M321 subtracted residual LT2 DNA revealed only six inserts of known gene function with evidence of both gain and loss of genes during the development of S. enterica clones. Sixteen of the 39 segments have 45% or lower G+C content, below the species average, but over half are within the normal range for the species. We conclude that even within a species, clones may differ by up to 20% of chromosomal DNA, indicating a major role for lateral transfer, and that on the basis of G+C content, a significant proportion of the DNA is from distantly related species.

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