Gene Gain and Gene Loss in Streptococcus: Is It Driven by Habitat?
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Bacterial genomes can evolve either by gene gain, gene loss, mutating existing genes, and/or by duplication of existing genes. Recent studies have clearly demonstrated that the acquisition of new genes by lateral gene transfer (LGT) is a predominant force in bacterial evolution. To better understand the significance of LGT, we employed a comparative genomics approach to model species-specific and intraspecies gene insertions/deletions (ins/del among 12 sequenced streptococcal genomes using a maximum likelihood method. This study indicates that the rate of gene ins/del is higher on the external branches and varies dramatically for each species. We have analyzed here some of the experimentally characterized species-specific genes that have been acquired by LGT and conclude that at least a portion of these genes have a role in adaptation.
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