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Annu Rev Genet. 1998;32:255-78.

Molecular mechanisms of bacteriocin evolution.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA.


Microorganisms are engaged in a never-ending arms race. One consequence of this intense competition is the diversity of antimicrobial compounds that most species of bacteria produce. Surprisingly, little attention has been paid to the evolution of such extraordinary diversity. One class of antimicrobials, the bacteriocins, has received increasing attention because of the high levels of bacteriocin diversity observed and the use of bacteriocins as preservatives in the food industry and as antibiotics in the human health industry. However, little effort has been focused on evolutionary questions, such as what are the phylogenetic relationships among these toxins, what mechanisms are involved in their evolution, and how do microorganisms respond to such an arsenal of weapons? The focus of this review is to provide a detailed picture of our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the process of bacteriocin diversification.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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