Selfish Operons and Speciation by Gene Transfer

Trends Microbiol. 1997 Sep;5(9):355-9. doi: 10.1016/S0966-842X(97)01110-4.


Bacterial genes providing for single metabolic functions are found in operons, possibly because this organization allows efficient horizontal transfer among organisms. Transferred genes can confer novel metabolic phenotypes on their new hosts and allow rapid, effective exploitation of new environmental niches. Moreover, the mobility of selfish operons may facilitate bacterial speciation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal*
  • Genes, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Multigene Family / physiology
  • Operon / physiology*
  • Species Specificity