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World first study shows that some microorganisms can bend the rules of evolution

The dominant thinking in evolution focuses on inheritance between parent and offspring – or 'vertical gene transfer (VGT)'.

But now scientists are paying more attention to 'horizontal gene transfer (HGT)': the transmission of DNA other than from parent to offspring, as this transfer can tell us about the evolution of a number of other organisms such as bacteria. It can also help us to better understand antibiotic resistance.

In a world first, Monash University scientists have discovered that HGT can bend the rules of evolution.

The discovery is outlined in a study published today in PNAS, which was led by ARC Future Fellow Dr. Mike McDonald and Ph.D. candidate Laura Woods, both from the Monash University School of Biological Sciences.

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