The Neolithic revolution of bacterial genomes

Trends Microbiol. 2006 May;14(5):200-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2006.03.001. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


Current human activities undoubtedly impact natural ecosystems. However, the influence of Homo sapiens on living organisms must have also occurred in the past. Certain genomic characteristics of prokaryotes can be used to study the impact of ancient human activities on microorganisms. By analyzing DNA sequence similarity features of transposable elements, dramatic genomic changes have been identified in bacteria that are associated with large and stable human communities, agriculture and animal domestication: three features unequivocally linked to the Neolithic revolution. It is hypothesized that bacteria specialized in human-associated niches underwent an intense transformation after the social and demographic changes that took place with the first Neolithic settlements. These genomic changes are absent in related species that are not specialized in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / microbiology
  • Base Sequence / genetics
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Crops, Agricultural / microbiology
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Human Activities*
  • Humans
  • Transposases / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Transposases