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Bacillus subtilis plays a game of “Telephone"

Without the benefit of sex to help them ensure their genetic legacy, bacteria employ horizontal gene transfer to move genes from one cell to another. One way to get this done between cells in contact with one another is using integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs), DNA segments that normally reside within the host genome but are excised and form a circle before moving on to a recipient cell. Because they can move genes quickly within a community, ICEs contribute to the spread of genes involved in pathogenesis, symbiosis, metabolism, and antibiotic resistance.

But is that the end of it? What happens after the recipient cell gets an ICE? A study published in mBio this week reveals that once a pair of Bacillus subtilis cells have accomplished a conjugation event, transconjugant cells become donors and play a sort of “Telephone” game with the DNA, passing copies of the ICE one to the next, down a chain of cells.

Click on the "source" link aboe ot read more on mBio's blog, mBiosphere.

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