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2011 News in Brief



Microbes have quick, effective way to exchange genetic information coding for antibiotic resistance, other functions

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Much as people can exchange information instantaneously in the digital age, bacteria associated with humans and their livestock appear to freely and rapidly exchange genetic material related to human disease and antibiotic resistance through a mechanism called horizontal gene transfer (HGT). In a paper appearing in Nature online Oct. 30, Professor Eric Alm and graduate students Chris Smillie and Mark Smith say they’ve found evidence of a massive network of recent gene exchange connecting bacteria from around the world: 10,000 unique genes flowing via HGT among 2,235 bacterial genomes. Read a news release.