Special Issue "Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor"


A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Life Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Sohan Jheeta
Independent researcher
Website: http://www.hgts.co.uk
E-Mail: sohan7@ntlworld.com
Interests: Conference Convener for "Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor" The Open University, UK 5-6 September 2013

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Horizontal gene transfer is an important process in modern biological systems, resulting in the spread of resistance genes among pathogens, and even gene sets for metabolic processes. There is also good evidence for ancient horizontal gene transfer events, indicating that the evolutionary history of genes within genomes is best understood in terms of networks. This Special Issue invites contributions that consider the extent to which horizontal gene transfer contributed to the early evolution of life on Earth.

Dr. Sohan Jheeta
Guest Editor


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.


  • gene transfer
  • horizontal gene transfer
  • lateral gene transfer
  • phylogenetic reconstruction
  • networks
  • tree of life
  • molecular phylogeny
  • rRNA
  • DNA
  • transformation
  • transduction
  • conjugation
  • membrane vesicle transfer

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Displaying article 1-3
p. 318-330
by  and
Life 2014, 4(3), 318-330; doi:10.3390/life4030318
Received: 24 December 2013 / Revised: 29 June 2014 / Accepted: 4 July 2014 / Published: 5 August 2014
Show/Hide Abstract | Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (813 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor)
p. 217-224
Life 2014, 4(2), 217-224; doi:10.3390/life4020217
Received: 19 February 2014 / Revised: 22 April 2014 / Accepted: 23 April 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
Show/Hide Abstract | PDF Full-text (652 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor)
p. 518-523
Life 2013, 3(4), 518-523; doi:10.3390/life3040518
Received: 20 October 2013 / Accepted: 22 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Prebiotic RNA Synthesis by Montmorillonite Catalysis
Authors: Sohan Jheeta1 and Prakash C. Joshi2,*

Network of Researchers on Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor, 1 Scott Hall Crescent, Leeds, LS7 3RB, U.K.; Email: sohan7@ntlworld.com; Tel.: +44 (0) 113 262 8767
NY Center for Astrobiology and Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, USA;Email: joship2@rpi.edu
The dual properties of RNA as a catalyst and its ability to act as a repository of genetic information suggest that early life was based on RNA and DNA as well as protein evolved from it. We have demonstrated synthesis of long RNA oligomers by Na+-montmorillonite-catalyzed reactions of 5´-end activated mononucleotides. The Na+-montmorillonite not only catalyzed the synthesis of RNA but also facilitated homochiral selection. These reactions were found to be dependent on the nature of mineral salts present. While montmorillonite (pH 7) produced only dimers in water, addition of sodium chloride (1 M) enhanced the chain length to 11-mers as detected by HPLC. The effect of monovalant cations in RNA synthesis was of the following order: Li+> Na+> K+. A similar effect was observed with the anions, enhancing catalysis in the following order: Cl-> Br-> I-. Montmorillonite-catalyzed RNA synthesis was not affected by hydrophobic or hydrophilic interactions. The results of this study show that the presence of salts is essential in prebiotic RNA synthesis catalyzed by clay minerals.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Structural Biology of the Bacterial Conjugation Systems
Authors: Aravindan Ilangovan, Sarah Connery and Gabriel Waksman
Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, UCL and Birkbeck, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK
Conjugative systems are type IV secretion systems that facilitate the transfer of DNA among bacteria and thus play a crucial role in the spread of antibiotic resistance genes among them. The T4S system is a versatile system that not just transports DNA but also transports toxin and effector protein. Among the T4S systems, the Agrobacterium tumefaciens VirB/D system, the Escherichia coli pKM101 and R388 conjugation systems are the most studied. Conjugative T4S system consist of 12 proteins named VirB1-11 and VirD4. VirB4, VirD4 (also called the T4 coupling protein) (T4CP) and VirB11 are ATPases that form the power packs of the system. Proteins VirB2 and 5 constitute the pilus and VirB3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 assemble to form the system’s channel. The DNA substrate is processed on the cytoplasmic side by a complex called the relaxosome. This includes a protein called relaxase, accessory protein components, a host protein integration host factor (IHF) and the corresponding origin of transfer (oriT) DNA. The contact between the relaxosome and the T4S system is made via the T4CP. Recent structural studies have characterised a very large complex of the T4S system spanning both the inner and outer membrane, with other individual proteins separately contributing to the architecture and functioning of the conjugation system.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Photosynergistic Collaboration of Non-Linear Processes at Mesoscopie Level and Emergence of a Minimal Protocell-Like Photoautotrophic Supramolecular Assemblies, “Jeewanu” in a Simulated Possible Prebiotic Atmosphere
Author: Vinod Kumar Gupta
Department of Zoology, C.M. D. Post Graduate College, Bilaspur – 495 001 (C.G.), India; Email: vkgcmd@gmail.com
Sunlight exposed sterilized aqueous mixture of ammonium molybdate, di ammonium hydrogen phosphate, biological minerals and formaldehyde shows photochemical formation of biomimetic, self-sustaining protocell-like supramolecular assemblies, “Jeewanu” [48]. The optical and scanning probe  microscopic examination of Jeewanu (SCM,AFM) have revealed that they are spherical in shape and are capable of showing multiplication by budding, grow from within and metabolic activities in them. The transmission electron microscopic studies (TEM) have shown that they have a definite boundary wall for charge separation and an intricate internal structure. The presence of ATP-ase like activity in Jewanu have been detected using radio-labeled ATP and AMP.
In prebiotic atmosphere possibly photosynergistic collaboration of non-linear processes at mesoscopic level established autocatalytic pathways on mineral surfaces by self-organisation,led to emergence of supramolecular photoautorophic assemblies similar to Jeewanu which might have given rise to earliest energy transducing  common universal ancestor on the earth or elsewhere.

Last update: 24 April 2014

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