The wacky world of horizontal gene transfer, genomic variants, and what we think are microbial species

“The main difference from eukaryotes is that prokaryotic reproduction is independent of DNA acquisition and recombination. Instead, DNA is obtained from fragmented chromosomes obtained via parasexual means (that is, without reproduction). These mechanisms of DNA exchange are not restricted to gene exchange within species, and therefore traits can and do come from highly divergent organisms. […]

Bacterial genomics: A new source of antimicrobial targets : Nature Reviews Microbiology

“Bacterial clone-based genome sequencing frequently results in gaps, which harbour hypothetical genes of unknown function. Sorek and colleagues show that these gaps contain a vast array of genes encoding proteins that are toxic to the sequencing host (Escherichia coli), including previously uncharacterized restriction enzymes, toxin–antitoxin systems and non-coding RNAs.” Of course, to me, this is […]

PLoS Genetics: A Broad Brush, Global Overview of Bacterial Sexuality

“These results have several implications. Firstly, plasmids and ICEs share the same protein families, and should be considered as alternative vehicles for conjugation pathways, rather than as distinct entities. Secondly, the potential for horizontal gene transfer and homologous recombination is widespread throughout microbes, which can help explain why mobile genetic elements are so common in […]

Genome at Home: Biohackers Build Their Own Labs | Magazine

“A tiny spare bedroom is not an ideal space for a high tech biofabrication facility. To get to the one Josh Perfetto is putting together, visitors must walk all the way to the back of his mostly unfurnished house in Saratoga, California—through the kitchen, past some empty rooms, across a den with a lone couch—then […]

Ancient DNA reveals secrets of human history : Nature News

“The past months have seen a swathe of discoveries, from details about when Neanderthals and humans interbred, to the important disease-fighting genes that humans now have as a result of those trysts.” Really nice article on the state of ancient DNA genomics. Really interesting and makes me imagine what the world was like with other […]