Gene conversion and concerted evolution in bacterial genomes

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2005 Apr;29(2):169-83. doi: 10.1016/j.femsre.2004.10.004.


Gene conversion is defined as the non-reciprocal transfer of information between homologous sequences. Despite methodological problems to establish non-reciprocity, gene conversion has been demonstrated in a wide variety of bacteria. Besides examples of high-frequency reversion of mutations in repeated genes, gene conversion in bacterial genomes has been implicated in concerted evolution of multigene families. Gene conversion also has a prime importance in the generation of antigenic variation, an interesting mechanism whereby some bacterial pathogens are able to avoid the host immune system. In this review, we analyze examples of bacterial gene conversion (some of them spawned from the current genomic revolution), as well as the molecular models that explain gene conversion and its association with crossovers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigenic Variation
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Conversion*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins