Are There Bugs in Our Genome?

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Science  08 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5523, pp. 1848-1850
DOI: 10.1126/science.1062241

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Although lateral gene transfer (the transfer of genes between species) is now accepted as a major force in bacterial evolution, complex multicellular eukaryotes (especially vertebrates) would not be predicted to readily acquire bacterial genes. Thus, the claim by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium that between 113 and 223 human genes may be of bacterial origin has prompted much excitement. In their Perspective, Andersson, Doolittle, and Nesbø discuss a reanalysis of this calculation ( Salzberg et al.), which yields a lower number of apparent bacterial genes in the human genome and provides several explanations in addition to lateral gene transfer to account for their presence.