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marcia stone

Firmark --have you been keeping up with the collaborative work of scientists in two groups at MIT? Martin F. Polz and Eric J. Alm are the PIs of each. They show that genes (HGTs) rather than genomes drive bacterial diversity and worked on closely related, ecologically distinct strains of Vibrio cyclitrophicus living on particles of different sizes and composition in he Atlantic Ocean. Flexible, quickly adaptable genmes are shaped by horizontal gene transfer (HGT); and forget cloning, that achieves diddly squat. (The do have the core genes inherited from a common ancestor though, that stays stable).

Microbe magazine will have an article about this soon so make sure to read every issue cover-to-cover.

I recommend two papers:
Shapiro BJ et al. Population Genomics of Early Events in the Ecological Differentiation of Bacteria (2012) Science: 336:36-51.

Smillie CS et al. Ecology drives a global network of gene exchange connecting the human microbiome. (2011) Nature480:241-244. (Not marine bacteria but same gene transfers.)

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