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Horizontal Gene Transfer

Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT), also lateral gene transfer (LGT), is any process in which an organism transfers genetic material to another cell that is not its offspring. There are three known mechanisms of HGT:

  1. Transformation

    "Transformation occurs when a bacterium picks up pieces of genetic material directly from its environment and inserts the genetic material into its own genome. This genetic material can come from a ruptured bacterial cell from the same or unrelated species."

  2. Conjugation

    "Conjugation can be thought of as 'bacterial sex' and involves direct cell-to-cell contact as genetic material is transferred from donor to recipient. The genetic material that is transferred is often in the form of a closed loop of DNA known as a plasmid."

  3. Transduction

    "Transduction is more complex and involves the transfer of genetic material from one bacterium to another by a virus."

    definitions cited from the ROAR project, see, Commensal Science For Non-Scientists

By contrast, vertical transfer occurs when an organism receives genetic material from its parent.

Recent evidence of whole bacterial genome comparisons suggests that horizontal gene transfer plays a more significant role in the evolution of Bacteria and Archaea than previously expected. - modified from wikipedia

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