Ancient Gene Transfer as a Tool in Phylogenetic Reconstruction

  • Jinling Huang
  • Johann Peter Gogarten
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 532)


Although horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is often considered as a disruptive force in reconstructing organismal phylogeny, it can also be a valuable phylogenetic tool. A gene in the net of life is often horizontally transferred to the ancestor of a major lineage. If the gene is retained in the recipient and its descendants, it will constitute a shared derived character and mark the recipient and all descendants as a monophyletic group. Additionally, phylogenetically informative HGTs also provide information about the sequence of emergence of involved taxa, because the donor organism must have emerged at least as early as the recipient. Here we review the recent applications of ancient HGT events in reconstructing organismal phylogeny as well as the promise and potential pitfalls of this approach.


Horizontal gene transfer intracellular gene transfer net of life phylogenetic reconstruction 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinling Huang
    • 1
  • Johann Peter Gogarten
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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