Microbial Evolution

Microbial evolution refers to the genetic changes that occur in a microorganism and are maintained over time. Changes in some microorganisms can occur in response to selective pressure. The best example of this is the variety of changes that can occur in bacteria depending on the presence of antibiotics. These changes can make a single bacterium less sensitive or completely resistant to the killing effects of one or more antibiotics. Changes in other microorganisms can occur randomly without selective pressure. These changes can be traced back to changes in the sequence of units (nucleotides) that make up the genetic material of an organism, giving them an advantage over unchanged organisms. In classical evolutionary scenarios, such beneficial properties are retained and may be passed on to future generations of the organism.

Gene transfer between bacteria can also occur between species that are not related to each other. This so-called horizontal gene transfer is an important form of evolution of naturally occurring microorganisms and can be important in the case of infectious diseases, such as when acquiring genes that determine antibiotic resistance.

Related Associations and Societies

Australasian Microbiology SocietyBrazilian Society of MicrobiologyGerman Society of Hygiene and  MicrobiologyItalian Society for MicrobiologySpanish Society for MicrobiologySwedish Society for Microbiology

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