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      Why prokaryotes have pangenomes

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      Nature Microbiology
      Springer Nature

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          Genome analysis of multiple pathogenic isolates of Streptococcus agalactiae: implications for the microbial "pan-genome".

          The development of efficient and inexpensive genome sequencing methods has revolutionized the study of human bacterial pathogens and improved vaccine design. Unfortunately, the sequence of a single genome does not reflect how genetic variability drives pathogenesis within a bacterial species and also limits genome-wide screens for vaccine candidates or for antimicrobial targets. We have generated the genomic sequence of six strains representing the five major disease-causing serotypes of Streptococcus agalactiae, the main cause of neonatal infection in humans. Analysis of these genomes and those available in databases showed that the S. agalactiae species can be described by a pan-genome consisting of a core genome shared by all isolates, accounting for approximately 80% of any single genome, plus a dispensable genome consisting of partially shared and strain-specific genes. Mathematical extrapolation of the data suggests that the gene reservoir available for inclusion in the S. agalactiae pan-genome is vast and that unique genes will continue to be identified even after sequencing hundreds of genomes.
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            The origins of genome complexity.

            Complete genomic sequences from diverse phylogenetic lineages reveal notable increases in genome complexity from prokaryotes to multicellular eukaryotes. The changes include gradual increases in gene number, resulting from the retention of duplicate genes, and more abrupt increases in the abundance of spliceosomal introns and mobile genetic elements. We argue that many of these modifications emerged passively in response to the long-term population-size reductions that accompanied increases in organism size. According to this model, much of the restructuring of eukaryotic genomes was initiated by nonadaptive processes, and this in turn provided novel substrates for the secondary evolution of phenotypic complexity by natural selection. The enormous long-term effective population sizes of prokaryotes may impose a substantial barrier to the evolution of complex genomes and morphologies.
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              Phylogenetic classification and the universal tree.

              From comparative analyses of the nucleotide sequences of genes encoding ribosomal RNAs and several proteins, molecular phylogeneticists have constructed a "universal tree of life," taking it as the basis for a "natural" hierarchical classification of all living things. Although confidence in some of the tree's early branches has recently been shaken, new approaches could still resolve many methodological uncertainties. More challenging is evidence that most archaeal and bacterial genomes (and the inferred ancestral eukaryotic nuclear genome) contain genes from multiple sources. If "chimerism" or "lateral gene transfer" cannot be dismissed as trivial in extent or limited to special categories of genes, then no hierarchical universal classification can be taken as natural. Molecular phylogeneticists will have failed to find the "true tree," not because their methods are inadequate or because they have chosen the wrong genes, but because the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree. However, taxonomies based on molecular sequences will remain indispensable, and understanding of the evolutionary process will ultimately be enriched, not impoverished.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Microbiology
                Nat. Microbiol
                Springer Nature
                2058-5276
                March 28 2017
                March 28 2017
                : 2
                : 4
                : 17040
                Article
                10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.40
                28350002
                07703491-2c6a-4e3d-8b2d-a2134486159d
                © 2017
                History

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