Role of Horizontal Gene Transfer in the Evolution of Fungi

Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2000 Sep;38:325-363. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.38.1.325.


Although evidence for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in eukaryotes remains largely anecdotal, literature on HGT in fungi suggests that it may have been more important in the evolution of fungi than in other eukaryotes. Still, HGT in fungi has not been widely accepted because the mechanisms by which it may occur are unknown, because it is usually not directly observed but rather implied as an outcome, and because there are often equally plausible alternative explanations. Despite these reservations, HGT has been justifiably invoked for a variety of sequences including plasmids, introns, transposons, genes, gene clusters, and even whole chromosomes. In some instances HGT has also been confirmed under experimental conditions. It is this ability to address the phenomenon in an experimental setting that makes fungi well suited as model systems in which to study the mechanisms and consequences of HGT in eukaryotic organisms.

Keywords: gene cluster; intron; lateral transfer; plasmid; supernumerary chromosome.