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Alternative Title

Determining the presence of viral lateral gene transfer events in Eukaryotic genomes

Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project


Biological Sciences


Eukaryotic cells-Genetics, Genetic transformation, Viruses, Fungi-Genetics, Bioinformatics, Lateral gene transfer, Fungi


Lateral gene transfer (LGT) refers to atypical exchange and incorporation of genetic information between species. Prevalent in bacteria, LGT events have been shown to occur through mechanisms such as transduction, transformation, conjugation, and via plasmids and viruses (Garcia-Vallvé et al., 2000). Yet, the role of LGT in eukaryotes is considered to be limited, although cases of prokaryote to eukaryote LGT are increasingly recognized (Andersson et al., 2003). Despite the low frequency of LGT occurrence, LGT events parallel several influential evolutionary adaptations in eukaryotes (Andersson, 2005), including the emergence of several enzymatic and metabolic pathways in eukaryotes (Hotopp et al., 2007). In order to investigate the presence/extent of LGT in fungal and viral genomes, we used a phylogenomics pipeline built on the analyses of single-gene phylogenies across all three domains (Grant and Katz 2014, Katz and Grant 2015). We are able to conclusively identify LGT occurrences in fungal genomes and potential viral LGT events. The results of these analyses support the notion that LGT is prevalent in fungal genomes, and hint at the presence of viral genes in eukaryotic genomes.




83 pages : color illustrations. Honors project, Smith College, 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 56-69)