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Gene Swap

Horizontal gene transfer isn't just the purview of prokaryotes. Researchers from Université de Lyon report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that a catabolic bacterial gene has been transferred numerous times to fungi.

The Lyon researchers led by Daniel Muller examined the genomes of some 149 eukaryotes and found the bacterial acdS genes in 65 of them — 61 fungi and 4 oomycetes. Based on a phylogenetic analysis, Muller and his team found that fungi and oomycetes acquired the acdS gene some 15 different times

"What we thought happens only sometimes, actually happens at a greater scale," Muller tells Nature, "with multiple donors and multiple recipients."

After the gene was transferred from bacteria to fungi, the researchers note that it often obtained introns and was expressed.

"Bacteria are so abundant and diverse, they could be a rich reservoir of new genes and functions for eukaryotes," Muller adds.