New light shed on the transfer of genes from one species to another

Submitted on Tue, 06/21/2016 - 11:22

Horizontal gene transfer involves genetic material being transferred from one cell to another. This phenomenon has only been investigated from the perspective of evolutionary biology for a few years.

Researchers at the University of Tampere’s School of Medicine and the BioMediTech Institute have investigated the details of the horizontal transfer of genes from certain bacteria to parasites.

The research showed that the β-carbonic anhydrase gene is expressed in the so-called mobile genetic elements (MGEs) of the genome of several different bacterial strains – such as the Salmonella bacteria – together with the transposase, integrase, and resolvase genes, which are important for the horizontal transfer of genes. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the β-carbonic anhydrase genes of some parasites resemble the bacteria they are in close contact with, and that the genes are likely to have come from those bacteria.

The research results provide new insight into the transfer of genetic materials from one species to another. Among other things, this phenomenon is significant for the development of antibiotic resistance. In antibiotic resistance, the transmitting genes may transfer in a similar manner in the MGEs, such as from one bacterial strain to another, or even from bacteria to parasites.

The research was published in the journal Parasites & Vectors.

Reza Zolfaghari Emameh, Harlan R. Barker, Martti E. E. Tolvanen, Seppo Parkkila and Vesa P. Hytönen: Horizontal transfer of β-carbonic anhydrase genes from prokaryotes to protozoans, insects, and nematodes.

For more information, please contact:
Researcher Reza Zolfaghari Emameh,,,, tel.: +358 (0) 46 882 8000
Professor Seppo Parkkila,, tel.: +358 (0)40 190 1825
Adjunct Professor Vesa Hytönen,, tel.: +358 (0)40 190 1517