Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 321389
Title The ecology of transfer of mobile genetic elements
Author(s) Elsas, J.D. van; Bailey, M.J.
Source FEMS Microbiology Ecology 42 (2002). - ISSN 0168-6496 - p. 187 - 197.
Department(s) PRI Crop and Production Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2002
Keyword(s) genetic elements
Abstract The ecological aspects of the transfer and spread of mobile genetic elements (MGE) are reviewed in the context of the emerging evidence for the dominant role that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has played in the evolutionary shaping of bacterial communities. Novel tools are described that allow a refined analysis of HGT in natural settings. The occurrence of HGT processes in soil and water, as affected by environmental factors, is then discussed. Examples are provided that illustrate how MGE can influence the behavior of microorganisms in their natural habitats. The occurrence of microorganisms as groups of cells in structured communities, such as those found in biofilms, is used as a framework in order to review the data and pose further questions on the evolutionary role and significance of contemporary gene transfer processes in nature. Selection by the environment is likely to be the dominant force in shaping the genetic make-up of bacterial communities. In fact, selective force can act as an apparent accelerator of gene transfer processes, mainly as a result of the enhancement of survival and persistence of favorably selected products of gene transfer processes (genes, metabolic pathways, microbial cells and communities). However, the current understanding of the triggering and impact of HGT in nature remains limited by our lack of understanding of the very nature and variety of the selective forces that act on microorganisms in situ. Hence, the relevant questions with respect to these triggers acting in natural habitats need to be answered using advanced approaches for studying HGT processes in nature, such as those discussed in this review.
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