Detecting lateral genetic transfer : a phylogenetic approach.Methods Mol Biol. 2008; 452:457-69.MM
Nucleotide sequences of microbial genomes provide evidence that genes have been shared among organisms, a phenomenon known as lateral genetic transfer (LGT). Hypotheses about the importance of LGT in the evolution and diversification of microbes can be tested by analyzing the extensive quantities of sequence data now available. Some analysis methods identify genes with sequence features that differ from those of the surrounding genome, whereas other methods are based on inference and comparison of phylogenetic trees. A large-scale search for LGT in 144 genomes using phylogenetic methods has revealed that although parent-to-offspring ("vertical") inheritance has been the dominant mode of gene transmission, LGT has nonetheless been frequent, especially among organisms that are closely related or share the same habitat. This chapter outlines how bioinformatic and phylogenetic analyses can be built into a workflow to identify LGT among microbial genomes.