Fungal Horizontal Gene Transfer: A History Beyond the Phylogenetic Kingdoms

  • Carlos BarreiroEmail author
  • Santiago Gutiérrez
  • Elías R. Olivera


Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has been traditionally assumed as limited in eukaryotes in contrast with its high frequency observed in prokaryotes. Although this event remains controversial in eukaryotic cells, evidences suggest that HGT is a relevant mechanism in eukaryotic genome development, as an evolutionary shortcut, triggering the appearance of new capabilities in the involved organisms. The best well-known transfer comes from endosymbionts to the host nuclear genome, often called endosymbiotic gene transfer, which represents an intracellular transference. Moreover, due to fungal inherent characteristics, as chitin cell walls and osmotrophic feeding, these organisms are considered as the most recalcitrant to allow gene transfer to them. However, the exponential number of genome sequences available on the databases has boosted the number of described gene transference events. Thus, the detection of the transferred genes, as well as their putative mechanisms of transference, is under study as a trending topic. Initially, genes from bacteria to fungi were the first detected candidates. Secondly, some complete bacterial metabolic pathways have been detected as transferred. Nowadays, the transference has been noticed from fungi to fungi or even from fungi to other eukaryotic organisms as aphids and plants or endosymbionts. This fact is opening the skyline to new unexpected gene or cluster movements.


Fungi Yeast Aphids Spider Plant HGT Horizontal gene transfer 



We would like to thank for their collaboration to all the members of INBIOTEC and the Department of Molecular Biology of the University of León. Special thanks to the ERA-IB project ProWood (“Wood and derivatives protection by novel bio-coating solutions”, ERA IB seventh Joint Call) through the APCIN call of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO, Spain) (Project ID: PCIN-2016-081) and to the Syntheroids project (“Synthetic biology for industrial production of steroids”; ERA CoBioTech first call) through the APCIN call of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (Project ID: PCI2018-093066).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Barreiro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Santiago Gutiérrez
    • 2
  • Elías R. Olivera
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto de Biotecnología de León (INBIOTEC), Parque Científico de LeónLeónSpain
  2. 2.Área de Microbiología, Departamento de Biología MolecularUniversidad de LeónPonferradaSpain
  3. 3.Área de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Biología MolecularUniversidad de LeónLeónSpain

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