Mobile genetic elements are near ubiquitous DNA segments that revealed a surprising variety of strategies for their propagation among prokaryotes and between eukaryotes. In bacteria, conjugative elements were shown to be key drivers of evolution and adaptation by efficiently disseminating genes involved in pathogenicity, symbiosis, metabolic pathways, and antibiotic resistance. Conjugative plasmids of the incompatibility groups A and C (A/C) are important vehicles for the dissemination of antibiotic resistance and the consequent global emergence and spread of multi-resistant pathogenic bacteria. Beyond their own mobility, A/C plasmids were also shown to drive the mobility of unrelated non-autonomous mobilizable genomic islands, which may also confer further advantageous traits. In this commentary, we summarize the current knowledge on different classes of A/C-dependent mobilizable genomic islands and we discuss other DNA hitchhikers and their implication in bacterial evolution. Furthermore, we glimpse at the complex genetic network linking autonomous and non-autonomous mobile genetic elements, and at the associated flow of genetic information between bacteria.
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