skip to content

Costs and benefits of horizontal gene transfer

 Direct visualization of bacterial horizontal gene transfer by the mechanism of transformation. Bacteria grow on an agar plate with DNA containing the gene that encodes for yellow fluorescent EYFP (here shown in red). When a single bacterium has imported the DNA and integrated the eyfp gene into its chromosome, it becomes red fluorescent. Since the acquisition of the novel gene is inheritable, the offspring is also fluorescent.


Bacterial transformation enables bacteria to exchange genetic information and can therefore speed up adaptive evolution. However, it is unclear under which conditions the benefit of transformation outweighs its cost. The goal of this project will be to experimentally quantify the costs and benefits of transformation. In the long run, this project will contribute to our understanding of how recombination has evolved and is stably maintained.