Horizontal Gene Transfer in Archaea-From Mechanisms to Genome Evolution

Uri Gophna, Neta Altman-Price

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Archaea remains the least-studied and least-characterized domain of life despite its significance not just to the ecology of our planet but also to the evolution of eukaryotes. It is therefore unsurprising that research into horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in archaea has lagged behind that of bacteria. Indeed, several archaeal lineages may owe their very existence to large-scale HGT events, and thus understanding both the molecular mechanisms and the evolutionary impact of HGT in archaea is highly important. Furthermore, some mechanisms of gene exchange, such as plasmids that transmit themselves via membrane vesicles and the formation of cytoplasmic bridges that allows transfer of both chromosomal and plasmid DNA, may be archaea-specific. This review summarizes what we know about HGT in archaea, and the barriers that restrict it, highlighting exciting recent discoveries and pointing out opportunities for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-502
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Microbiology
StatePublished - 8 Sep 2022


  • archaea
  • evolution
  • horizontal gene transfer
  • lateral gene transfer
  • mating
  • recombination


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