The maintenance of sex in bacteria is ensured by its potential to reload genes

Gergely J. Szöllosi, I. Derényi, T. Vellai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Why sex is maintained in nature is a fundamental question in biology. Natural genetic transformation (NGT) is a sexual process by which bacteria actively take up exogenous DNA and use it to replace homologous chromosomal sequences. As it has been demonstrated, the role of NGT in repairing deleterious mutations under constant selection is insufficient for its survival, and the lack of other viable explanations have left no alternative except that DNA uptake provides nucleotides for food. Here we develop a novel simulation approach for the long-term dynamics of genome organization (involving the loss and acquisition of genes) in a bacterial species consisting of a large number of spatially distinct populations subject to independently fluctuating ecological conditions. Our results show that in the presence of weak interpopulation migration NGT is able to subsist as a mechanism to reload locally lost, intermittently selected genes from the collective gene pool of the species through DNA uptake from migrants. Reloading genes and combining them with those in locally adapted genomes allow individual cells to readapt faster to environmental changes. The machinery of transformation survives under a wide range of model parameters readily encompassing real-world biological conditions. These findings imply that the primary role of NGT is not to serve the cell with food, but to provide homologous sequences for restoring genes that have disappeared from or become degraded in the local population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2173-2180
Number of pages8
JournalGenetics
Volume174
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Fingerprint

Genetic Transformation
Maintenance
Bacteria
Sequence Homology
Genes
DNA
Genome
Gene Pool
Food
Population
Nucleotides
Mutation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this

The maintenance of sex in bacteria is ensured by its potential to reload genes. / Szöllosi, Gergely J.; Derényi, I.; Vellai, T.

In: Genetics, Vol. 174, No. 4, 2006, p. 2173-2180.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{dd1712a4d7e44391a38cfc7b01bc8337,
title = "The maintenance of sex in bacteria is ensured by its potential to reload genes",
abstract = "Why sex is maintained in nature is a fundamental question in biology. Natural genetic transformation (NGT) is a sexual process by which bacteria actively take up exogenous DNA and use it to replace homologous chromosomal sequences. As it has been demonstrated, the role of NGT in repairing deleterious mutations under constant selection is insufficient for its survival, and the lack of other viable explanations have left no alternative except that DNA uptake provides nucleotides for food. Here we develop a novel simulation approach for the long-term dynamics of genome organization (involving the loss and acquisition of genes) in a bacterial species consisting of a large number of spatially distinct populations subject to independently fluctuating ecological conditions. Our results show that in the presence of weak interpopulation migration NGT is able to subsist as a mechanism to reload locally lost, intermittently selected genes from the collective gene pool of the species through DNA uptake from migrants. Reloading genes and combining them with those in locally adapted genomes allow individual cells to readapt faster to environmental changes. The machinery of transformation survives under a wide range of model parameters readily encompassing real-world biological conditions. These findings imply that the primary role of NGT is not to serve the cell with food, but to provide homologous sequences for restoring genes that have disappeared from or become degraded in the local population.",
author = "Sz{\"o}llosi, {Gergely J.} and I. Der{\'e}nyi and T. Vellai",
year = "2006",
doi = "10.1534/genetics.106.063412",
language = "English",
volume = "174",
pages = "2173--2180",
journal = "Genetics",
issn = "0016-6731",
publisher = "Genetics Society of America",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The maintenance of sex in bacteria is ensured by its potential to reload genes

AU - Szöllosi, Gergely J.

AU - Derényi, I.

AU - Vellai, T.

PY - 2006

Y1 - 2006

N2 - Why sex is maintained in nature is a fundamental question in biology. Natural genetic transformation (NGT) is a sexual process by which bacteria actively take up exogenous DNA and use it to replace homologous chromosomal sequences. As it has been demonstrated, the role of NGT in repairing deleterious mutations under constant selection is insufficient for its survival, and the lack of other viable explanations have left no alternative except that DNA uptake provides nucleotides for food. Here we develop a novel simulation approach for the long-term dynamics of genome organization (involving the loss and acquisition of genes) in a bacterial species consisting of a large number of spatially distinct populations subject to independently fluctuating ecological conditions. Our results show that in the presence of weak interpopulation migration NGT is able to subsist as a mechanism to reload locally lost, intermittently selected genes from the collective gene pool of the species through DNA uptake from migrants. Reloading genes and combining them with those in locally adapted genomes allow individual cells to readapt faster to environmental changes. The machinery of transformation survives under a wide range of model parameters readily encompassing real-world biological conditions. These findings imply that the primary role of NGT is not to serve the cell with food, but to provide homologous sequences for restoring genes that have disappeared from or become degraded in the local population.

AB - Why sex is maintained in nature is a fundamental question in biology. Natural genetic transformation (NGT) is a sexual process by which bacteria actively take up exogenous DNA and use it to replace homologous chromosomal sequences. As it has been demonstrated, the role of NGT in repairing deleterious mutations under constant selection is insufficient for its survival, and the lack of other viable explanations have left no alternative except that DNA uptake provides nucleotides for food. Here we develop a novel simulation approach for the long-term dynamics of genome organization (involving the loss and acquisition of genes) in a bacterial species consisting of a large number of spatially distinct populations subject to independently fluctuating ecological conditions. Our results show that in the presence of weak interpopulation migration NGT is able to subsist as a mechanism to reload locally lost, intermittently selected genes from the collective gene pool of the species through DNA uptake from migrants. Reloading genes and combining them with those in locally adapted genomes allow individual cells to readapt faster to environmental changes. The machinery of transformation survives under a wide range of model parameters readily encompassing real-world biological conditions. These findings imply that the primary role of NGT is not to serve the cell with food, but to provide homologous sequences for restoring genes that have disappeared from or become degraded in the local population.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33845736436&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33845736436&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1534/genetics.106.063412

DO - 10.1534/genetics.106.063412

M3 - Article

VL - 174

SP - 2173

EP - 2180

JO - Genetics

JF - Genetics

SN - 0016-6731

IS - 4

ER -