Contribution of lateral gene transfer to the gene repertoire of a gut-adapted methanogen

Mor N. Lurie-Weinberger, Michael Peeri, Uri Gophna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Methanobrevibacter smithii is the most abundant archaeon in the human colon. As most of its neighbors are bacterial species, it is expected that lateral gene acquisition from bacteria might have contributed to the evolution and adaptation of this archaeon. We performed a tree-based genome-wide survey of putative lateral gene transfer products in M. smithii, using a phylogenetic pipeline. Over 15% of the coding genes of M. smithii are inferred to be bacterial in origin, based on this analysis. Laterally acquired genes have had the largest contribution to surface functions, and encode glycosyl-transferases and adhesin-like proteins. In addition, several important ABC transporters, especially metal transporters are of bacterial origin. Thus, bacterial genes contributed to the host-adaptation by allowing a larger variety of surface structures and increasing the efficiency of metal ion uptake in the competitive gut niche.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


FundersFunder number
German–Israeli Project Cooperation
James S. McDonnell Foundation
Ministry of Health, State of Israel


    • Archaeal genomics
    • Horizontal gene transfer
    • Microbial evolution


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