Gene swapping and Bacteria


Gene swapping and Bacteria

Something interesting about the question on gene swapping between bacteria and the one on bacteriophage is that the answers some how relate. As I have pointed in a reply to a post on bacteriophage, this type of virus is the primary gene transfer agent between bacterial cells under the transduction mode of gene transfer. The transfer is considered accidental since it is aided by a virus with an unpredictable pattern.

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Another perspective I found critical is that there is possibility of vertical and horizontal transfer of genes between bacteria due to the nature of interaction between bacteriophage and bacterial molecules. Bacteriophage have low fidelity in their structure hence genetic information can easily be transferred between their DNA and the bacterial genome. The reverse is also true where bacterial DNA is attached to the bacteriophage genome.

Both horizontal and vertical transfers can result in bacteria being adaptive and hence overall would affect their response for instance to medical treatment. Vertical transfer will cause bacteria offspring to carry the gene traits of the original bacteria while horizontal transfers genes between bacteria of the same generation.

This is essentially in the case where bacteriophage changes the gene composition of bacteria such as E.Coli or Vibrio cholerae making them not only harmful to human beings but also adaptive in how they respond to medical treatment. Further, bacteriophage is also being used to treat antibiotic-resistance cases by its ability to infect and kill the bacteria and their antibiotic resistant strains.


Neuberger, A., Bitterman, R., Sinclair, D., Salam, M. A., Paul, M., & Leibovici‐Weissman, Y. A. (2014). Antimicrobial drugs for treating cholera. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2014(6).

Międzybrodzki, R., Borysowski, J., Weber-Dąbrowska, B., Fortuna, W., Letkiewicz, S., Szufnarowski, K., … & Wojtasik, E. Chapter 3–Clinical aspects of phage therapy. Advances in Virus Research; Łobocka, M., Szybalski, W., Eds, 73-121.

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