Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria

April 29, 2020

Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria to gain beneficial attributes, such as the ability to tolerate stressful environments or break down carbohydrates for food, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.

The study of 23 species of brown and golden-brown algae, published in the journal Science Advances, shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of a massive and ancient group of algae and protists (mostly one-celled organisms including protozoa) that help form the base of oceanic food webs. These photosynthetic species produce about 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe and some of them, such as diatoms, are responsible for about 45 percent of global primary production of organic matter.

"The vast group of species called CRASH, including algae such as diatoms and dinoflagellates, as well as members of the group (alveolates) that includes the malaria parasite and another group (oomycetes) that includes the potato blight pathogen, creates and consumes immense amounts of organic matter," said corresponding author Debashish Bhattacharya, a distinguished professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. "There are hundreds of thousands of CRASH species and they have thrived on Earth for more than a billion years."

The scientists, led by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, created a massive genomic dataset of more than 524,000 protein sequences from 23 CRASH species and used sophisticated methods to analyze the data.

The results showed that gene stealing or acquisition (known as horizontal gene transfer) varies substantially among different CRASH species, with 0.16 percent to 1.44 percent of their genes (an average of 1 percent) coming from bacteria.
-end-


Rutgers University

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.