Lateral gene transfer between prokaryotes and multicellular eukaryotes: ongoing and significant?

V.I.D. Ros, G.D.D. Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The expansion of genome sequencing projects has produced accumulating evidence for lateral transfer of genes between prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. However, it remains controversial whether these genes are of functional importance in their recipient host. Nikoh and Nakabachi, in a recent paper in BMC Biology, take a first step and show that two genes of bacterial origin are highly expressed in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. Active gene expression of transferred genes is supported by three other recent studies. Future studies should reveal whether functional proteins are produced and whether and how these are targeted to the appropriate compartment. We argue that the transfer of genes between host and symbiont may occasionally be of great evolutionary importance, particularly in the evolution of the symbiotic interaction itself
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalBMC Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • wolbachia
  • chromosome
  • evolution
  • genomes
  • insect


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