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      Genomics of bacteria and archaea: the emerging dynamic view of the prokaryotic world

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      * ,
      Nucleic Acids Research
      Oxford University Press

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          Abstract

          The first bacterial genome was sequenced in 1995, and the first archaeal genome in 1996. Soon after these breakthroughs, an exponential rate of genome sequencing was established, with a doubling time of approximately 20 months for bacteria and approximately 34 months for archaea. Comparative analysis of the hundreds of sequenced bacterial and dozens of archaeal genomes leads to several generalizations on the principles of genome organization and evolution. A crucial finding that enables functional characterization of the sequenced genomes and evolutionary reconstruction is that the majority of archaeal and bacterial genes have conserved orthologs in other, often, distant organisms. However, comparative genomics also shows that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is a dominant force of prokaryotic evolution, along with the loss of genetic material resulting in genome contraction. A crucial component of the prokaryotic world is the mobilome, the enormous collection of viruses, plasmids and other selfish elements, which are in constant exchange with more stable chromosomes and serve as HGT vehicles. Thus, the prokaryotic genome space is a tightly connected, although compartmentalized, network, a novel notion that undermines the ‘Tree of Life’ model of evolution and requires a new conceptual framework and tools for the study of prokaryotic evolution.

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          Two-component signal transduction.

          Most prokaryotic signal-transduction systems and a few eukaryotic pathways use phosphotransfer schemes involving two conserved components, a histidine protein kinase and a response regulator protein. The histidine protein kinase, which is regulated by environmental stimuli, autophosphorylates at a histidine residue, creating a high-energy phosphoryl group that is subsequently transferred to an aspartate residue in the response regulator protein. Phosphorylation induces a conformational change in the regulatory domain that results in activation of an associated domain that effects the response. The basic scheme is highly adaptable, and numerous variations have provided optimization within specific signaling systems. The domains of two-component proteins are modular and can be integrated into proteins and pathways in a variety of ways, but the core structures and activities are maintained. Thus detailed analyses of a relatively small number of representative proteins provide a foundation for understanding this large family of signaling proteins.
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            Community structure and metabolism through reconstruction of microbial genomes from the environment.

            Microbial communities are vital in the functioning of all ecosystems; however, most microorganisms are uncultivated, and their roles in natural systems are unclear. Here, using random shotgun sequencing of DNA from a natural acidophilic biofilm, we report reconstruction of near-complete genomes of Leptospirillum group II and Ferroplasma type II, and partial recovery of three other genomes. This was possible because the biofilm was dominated by a small number of species populations and the frequency of genomic rearrangements and gene insertions or deletions was relatively low. Because each sequence read came from a different individual, we could determine that single-nucleotide polymorphisms are the predominant form of heterogeneity at the strain level. The Leptospirillum group II genome had remarkably few nucleotide polymorphisms, despite the existence of low-abundance variants. The Ferroplasma type II genome seems to be a composite from three ancestral strains that have undergone homologous recombination to form a large population of mosaic genomes. Analysis of the gene complement for each organism revealed the pathways for carbon and nitrogen fixation and energy generation, and provided insights into survival strategies in an extreme environment.
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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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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nucleic Acids Res
                Nucleic Acids Res
                nar
                nar
                Nucleic Acids Research
                Oxford University Press
                0305-1048
                1362-4962
                December 2008
                23 October 2008
                23 October 2008
                : 36
                : 21
                : 6688-6719
                Affiliations
                National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
                Author notes
                *To whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel: +1 301 435 5913; Fax: +1 301 480 9241; Email: koonin@ 123456ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
                Article
                gkn668
                10.1093/nar/gkn668
                2588523
                18948295
                9ae0de89-6509-4718-824e-492e99525efd
                © 2008 The Author(s)

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/uk/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Survey and Summary

                Genetics
                Genetics

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