Introduction to Horizontal Gene Transfer – An article by Sumit Pareek

Introduction to Horizontal Gene Transfer

Sumit Pareek 

Sharing of Genetic Information or Traits or Characteristics from parents to progeny is occurs by Gene transfer and that can be happened by two ways ie. Vertical Gene Transfer (Traditional Gene Transfer) and Horizontal Gene transfer.

What they are:-

In Vertical Gene Transfer, genes those are originated in Germ line (Cell lines that have ability for Reproducibility), are transfer to next germ cell line. Means the traits or characteristics of Germ cell (like- reproduction, sexual traits etc.)

And in Horizontal Gene Transfer, gene those are originated in somatic cell (cells those plays only functional roles for routine works), but the receiving cell must be a germ line cell in order for the transferred gene to be passed on to the next generation. Strictly speaking, transfers of genes between somatic cells of two species are not called horizontal gene transfer, because as we know that any traits of somatic cell are only can be transferred by Germ cells.



Diag:-Sharing of Genes by HGT and VGT

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) transfer of gene between organisms, other than traditional reproduction. (Also called as lateral gene transfer-LGT) .It is an Important factor inevolution, Antibiotic resistance, Noval compound degradation, Transmission of virulence

In generally genes are transferred from parent to their progeny, is always responsible for development of traits to their progeny, is it vertical fashion of gene transfer but may at some cases horizontal gene transfer is also observed, that means a gene is transfers form one spices to another with any vehicle and that vehicle may be any bacteria or may any virus or may some vectors

Horizontal Gene Transfer is not easy to Detect, but when we checks data of last several centuries, then we find that nucleotide sequences of Archeabactiruim, Eubactrium is quite different, but shows closer.

At present, only horizontal gene transfer can explain the mosaic features of the genomes. It implies that a tremendous amount of horizontal gene transfer should have taken place during long-term evolution. Genomes are tending to have a robustness that allows major changes in gene order and arrangement without loss of function. This provides an environment in which horizontal gene transfer can occur and provides a source for the emergence of new gene systems and new gene interactions. Thus, the unit of function appears to be the gene, and the positions of genes in the genome have little effect on function. There appear to be only rare examples in which a set of genes must work as a unit. This elasticity of the genome allows it to absorb any disturbances caused by horizontal gene transfer, and it demonstrates the evolutionary significance of the genome itself.


  • Transformation :- Sharing of DNA molecule within same species with any help of tube
  • Transduction:- With virus help Bacterial DNA molecules moves from one to another bacterium
  • Conjugation:-plasmid DNA transfer by cell-to-cell contact
  • Transposome (Selfish DNA):- this is a mobile DNA segment which is also referred as Selfish DNA.


Suggested readings :-

  • Horizontal Gene Transfer-Michael Syvanen & Clearance I. kado
  • Hoogsteen (1963) Acta Crystallogr. 16, 907–916.
  • Bhat, Neelma, N. J. Leonard, H. Robinson, andA. H.-J. Wang (1996) J. Am. Chem. Soc. 118,
  • 3065–3066.
  • Kawai, I. Saito, and H. Sugiyama (1998) Tetrahedron Lett. 39, 5221–5224.
  • -J. Wang et al. (1984) Science 225, 1115–1121.
  • H. Kim et al. (1974) Science 185, 435–440.
  • Mol bio-Encyclopedia of Molecular Biology [Vol 1-4] – T. Creighton (Wiley, 1999)
  • Http://


Please be noted that this article is only for information purpose. Individuals are requested to check their own scientific accuracy.



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