Genome transplantation (GT) allows the installation of purified chromosomes into recipient cells, causing the resulting organisms to adopt the genotype and the phenotype conferred by the donor cells. This key process remains a bottleneck in synthetic biology, especially for genome engineering strategies of intractable and economically important microbial species. So far, this process has only been reported using two closely related bacteria, Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri (Mmc) and Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capricolum (Mcap), and the main factors driving the compatibility between a donor genome and a recipient cell are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the impact of the evolutionary distance between donor and recipient species on the efficiency of GT. Using Mcap as the recipient cell, we successfully transplanted the genome of six bacteria belonging to the Spiroplasma phylogenetic group but including species of two distinct genera. Our results demonstrate that GT efficiency is inversely correlated with the phylogenetic distance between donor and recipient bacteria but also suggest that other species-specific barriers to GT exist. This work constitutes an important step toward understanding the cellular factors governing the GT process in order to better define and eventually extend the existing genome compatibility limit.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.