Caister Academic Press

Gene Traders: Characteristics of Native Plasmids from Plant Pathogenic Bacteria

George W. Sundin and Jesús Murillo
from: Plant Pathogenic Bacteria: Genomics and Molecular Biology (Edited by: Robert W. Jackson). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2009)


The concept of bacterial plasmids as gene traders is illustrative of the role of these elements in horizontal gene transfer, and specifically in the acquisition and distribution of sequences that enable rapid evolution. Plasmids are components of the horizontal gene pool and, as such, their genetic content is potentially accessible by a wide range of organisms. Most plasmids appear to ameliorate any potential negative effect on host fitness by encoding determinants of virulence and ecological fitness that can enhance adaptation to a specific niche or can influence niche expansion. The availability of multiple complete genome sequences of bacterial phytopathogens has shown the importance of horizontally-acquired gene sequences in pathogen evolution. We suspect that plasmids have played a significant role in this gene mobility and also in the delivery of acquired genes to bacterial chromosomes through plasmid integration events. The versatility of plasmids plays a critical role in the evolutionary arms race of bacterial pathogens and plants read more ...
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