The Relative Contributions of Recombination and Point Mutation to the Diversification of Bacterial Clones

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2001 Oct;4(5):602-6. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(00)00257-5.


Low levels of recombination in bacterial species have often been inferred from the presence of linkage disequilibrium between the alleles at different loci in the population. However, significant linkage disequilibrium is inevitable in organisms that divide by binary fission, and recombinational replacements must be very frequent, compared to point mutation, to dissipate disequilibrium. Recent studies using data from multilocus sequence typing indicate that, in many species, recombinational replacements contribute more greatly to clonal diversification than do point mutations and, in some species, recombination has been sufficient to eliminate any phylogenetic signal from gene trees. Recent efforts to improve understanding of the extent and impact of homologous recombination in the diversification of bacterial clones are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Point Mutation*
  • Recombination, Genetic*