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The initial analysis of the human genome draft sequence reveals that our 'book of life' is multi-authored. A small but significant proportion of our genes owes their heritage not to antecedent eukaryotes but instead to bacteria. The publicly funded Human Genome Project study indicates that about 0.5% of all human genes were copied into the genome from bacterial sources. Detailed sequence analyses point to these 'horizontal gene transfer' events having occurred relatively recently. So how did the human 'book of life' evolve to be a chimaera, part animal and part bacterium? And what was the probable evolutionary impact of such gene plagiarism?

Type

Journal article

Journal

Trends Genet

Publication Date

05/2001

Volume

17

Pages

235 - 237

Keywords

Bacteria, Human Genome Project, Humans, Software