What is Gene Swapping? What are the consequences?


What is Gene Swapping? What are the consequences?

Swapping of genes results in transfer of gene traits that can be parasitic, beneficial or cooperative. Some of the beneficial traits include virulence, resistance to antibiotics, detoxification agents, and enzymes to improve secondary metabolism (Rankin, Rocha and Brown, 2011). In addition, bacteria cells have genes that determine the fitness in the host’s cell. In a cooperative scenario for instance, genes can transfer proteins that are beneficial to the degrading enzymes in the host. In a parasitic case, the genes would transfer substances such as bacteriocins that harm the host cells.

Bacterial cells can swap genes either through transformation, transduction, or conjugation (Schumann, 2006). In transformation, cells in a competent state acquire DNA fragments from the surrounding medium/environment. The DNA is usually shed from other cells. Under transduction, the transfer is usually viral through the bacteriophage virus. The bacteriophage encloses the genes and moves them from one cell to another (Olson, 2014). Lastly, conjugation occurs through cell to cell contact mediated by plasmids. Only the donor cell contains the plasmids so the transfer occurs one way. It is among the most efficient transfer of genes between cells since it occurs through a tube (sex pilus) that extend from the donor cell and attaches on the recipient cell (Costa, et. al., 2016).

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The interesting part of this response is the transfer of genetic traits between bacterial cells. This is particularly transfer of gene traits that boost virulence and resistance to antibiotics. This is because as implied by Lerat, (2005), developing effective treatment and innovating antibacterial medicine would need constant monitoring of genetic adaptation of bacterial cells.


Costa, T. R., Ilangovan, A., Ukleja, M., Redzej, A., Santini, J. M., Smith, T. K., … & Waksman, G. (2016). Structure of the bacterial sex F pilus reveals an assembly of a stoichiometric protein-phospholipid complex. Cell, 166(6), 1436-1444.

Lerat, E., Daubin, V., Ochman, H., & Moran, N. A. (2005). Evolutionary origins of genomic repertoires in bacteria. PLoS biology, 3(5).

Olson, M. E. (2014). Bacteriophage transduction in Staphylococcus aureus. In The Genetic Manipulation of Staphylococci (pp. 69-74). Humana Press, New York, NY.

Rankin, D. J., Rocha, E. P., & Brown, S. P. (2011). What traits are carried on mobile genetic elements, and why?. Heredity, 106(1), 1-10.

Schumann, W. (2006). Dynamics of the Bacterial Chromosome: Structure and Function. Wiley-Blackwell.

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