Dictionary > Gene transfer

Gene transfer

noun, plural: gene transfers
The transfer of genes between organisms
Gene transfer pertains to the transfer of genes between organisms. It may be a horizontal gene transfer or a vertical gene transfer. The transfer of genes is horizontally when a segment of DNA is copied and inserted from one site to another of the same or of a different chromosome. It is also referred to as transposition. The genes, referred to as transposons or jumping genes, are transferred from the donor organism to the recipient organism (i.e. not the donor organism’s offspring) through gene copying and insertion. This kind of gene transfer is associated with the occurrence of antibiotic resistance and transmission of virulence among different bacterial species.1, 2
In contrast, the vertical gene transfer pertains to the transfer of genes from parents to offspring. This kind of gene transfer entails reproductive mechanisms such as by sexual reproduction or by asexual reproduction. Vertical gene transfer is applied in plant breeding. Two crop plants are crossed sexually in order to breed new generation of crops with desired traits.
See also:


1 Gyles, C; Boerlin P (March 2014). “Horizontally transferred genetic elements and their role in pathogenesis of bacterial disease”. Veterinary Pathology 51 (2): 328–340.

1 Keen, E. C. (December 2012). “Paradigms of pathogenesis: Targeting the mobile genetic elements of disease”. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 2: 161.

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