Quantitative analysis of horizontal gene transfer in complex systems

Jenifer Moralez, Karolina Szenkiel, Kerry Hamilton, Amy Pruden, Allison J. Lopatkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) plays a significant role in rapidly propagating diverse traits throughout bacterial populations, thereby accelerating natural evolution and leading to complex community structures. Critical gene transfer rates underlying these occurrences dictate the efficiency and speed of gene spread; these rates are often highly specific to HGT mechanism and environmental context, and have historically been challenging to reliably quantify. In this review, we examine recent works that leverage rigorous quantitative methods to precisely measure these rates in a variety of settings beginning with in vitro studies and advancing to in situ measurements; we emphasize contexts where quantification across multiple scales of complexity has led to fundamental biological insights. Finally, we highlight the applications of these measurements and suggest potential methodological advances to improve our understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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