Rapid disease emergence through horizontal gene transfer between eukaryotes

Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Dec;21(12):656-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2006.10.006. Epub 2006 Oct 19.


Among different species of eukaryotes, the extent and evolutionary significance of horizontal gene transfer remains poorly understood. A newly published study by Friesen and colleagues indicates that a recent gene transfer between two species of fungi has enabled the recipient to rapidly acquire high virulence on wheat. The study highlights a mechanism by which diseases can suddenly emerge, but also brings up the controversial issues of how horizontal gene transfer occurs and whether fungal incompatibility barriers to gene flow are more 'leaky' than was previously thought.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eukaryotic Cells*
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / pathogenicity*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal*
  • Mycoses / microbiology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Virulence