Horizontal gene transfer
Waikel, Rebekah L. Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.
Baute, Audrey J. Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- HGT mechanisms
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- Human microbiome
- Network of gene exchange in the human microbiome
- Antibiotic resistance
- HGT builds superbugs
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The passage of genetic information from a donor to a recipient by nonsexual processes. The transfer of genes is traditionally thought to occur in a vertical fashion, with genes being passed from parent cell to daughter cell or from parent to offspring through either sexual or asexual reproduction. In contrast, horizontal gene transfer (HGT), which is also known as lateral gene transfer, is the passing of genetic material from one organism to another organism, either related or unrelated, through nonreproductive mechanisms (Fig. 1). HGT can occur in all organisms from bacteria to humans (however, note that the focus of this article will concentrate on HGT in bacteria). Genes transferred through HGT can be harmful, neutral, or beneficial to the organism. Through natural selection, the harmful genes will be lost, and the beneficial genes will remain to be passed horizontally along from donor to recipient. See also: Bacteria; Bacterial genetics; Bacteriology; Evolution; Gene; Genetics
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