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

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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

NoR HGT & LUCA*, 1 Scott Hall Crescent, Leeds, LS7 3RB, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: origins of life; astrobiology

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

Submission

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.

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Keywords

  • 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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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Horizontal Gene Transfer and Its Part in the Reorganisation of Genetics during the LUCA Epoch
Life 2013, 3(4), 518-523; doi:10.3390/life3040518
Received: 20 October 2013 / Accepted: 22 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (37 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Currently there are five known mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer (HGT): transduction, conjugation, transformation, gene transfer agents and membrane vesicle transfer. The question here is: what part did HGT play in the reorganisation of genetics during the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) epoch?
[...] Read more.
Currently there are five known mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer (HGT): transduction, conjugation, transformation, gene transfer agents and membrane vesicle transfer. The question here is: what part did HGT play in the reorganisation of genetics during the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) epoch? LUCA is a construct to explain the origin of the three domains of life; namely Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya. This editorial offers a general introduction to the relevance and ultimate significance of HGT in relation to the LUCA. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Prebiotic RNA Synthesis by Montmorillonite Catalysis
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
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (813 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This review summarizes our recent findings on the role of mineral salts in prebiotic RNA synthesis, which is catalyzed by montmorillonite clay minerals. The clay minerals not only catalyze the synthesis of RNA but also facilitate homochiral selection. Preliminary data of these findings
[...] Read more.
This review summarizes our recent findings on the role of mineral salts in prebiotic RNA synthesis, which is catalyzed by montmorillonite clay minerals. The clay minerals not only catalyze the synthesis of RNA but also facilitate homochiral selection. Preliminary data of these findings have been presented at the “Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA)” conference at the Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, 5–6 September 2013. The objective of this meeting was to recognize the significance of RNA in LUCA. We believe that the prebiotic RNA synthesis from its monomers must have been a simple process. As a first step, it may have required activation of the 5'-end of the mononucleotide with a leaving group, e.g., imidazole in our model reaction (Figure 1). Wide ranges of activating groups are produced from HCN under plausible prebiotic Earth conditions. The final step is clay mineral catalysis in the presence of mineral salts to facilitate selective production of functional RNA. Both the clay minerals and mineral salts would have been abundant on early Earth. We have demonstrated that while montmorillonite (pH 7) produced only dimers from its monomers in water, addition of sodium chloride (1 M) enhanced the chain length multifold, as detected by HPLC. The effect of monovalent cations on 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. The montmorillonite-catalyzed RNA synthesis was not affected by hydrophobic or hydrophilic interactions. We thus show that prebiotic synthesis of RNA from its monomers was a simple process requiring only clay minerals and a small amount of salt. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor)

Review

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Open AccessReview Horizontal Gene Transfer among Bacteria and Its Role in Biological Evolution
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
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (652 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This is a contribution to the history of scientific advance in the past 70 years concerning the identification of genetic information, its molecular structure, the identification of its functions and the molecular mechanisms of its evolution. Particular attention is thereby given to horizontal
[...] Read more.
This is a contribution to the history of scientific advance in the past 70 years concerning the identification of genetic information, its molecular structure, the identification of its functions and the molecular mechanisms of its evolution. Particular attention is thereby given to horizontal gene transfer among microorganisms, as well as to biosafety considerations with regard to beneficial applications of acquired scientific knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor)

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