Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is common between prokaryotes and phagotrophic eukaryotes. In metazoans, the scale and significance of HGT remains largely unexplored but is usually linked to a close association with parasites and endosymbionts. Marine sponges (Porifera), which host many microorganisms in their tissues and lack an isolated germ line, are potential carriers of genes transferred from prokaryotes. In this study, we identified a number of potential horizontally transferred genes within the genome of the sponge, Amphimedon queenslandica.We further identified homologs of some of these genes in other sponges. The transferred genes, most of which possess catalytic activity for carbohydrate or protein metabolism, have assimilated host genome characteristics and are actively expressed. The diversity of functions contributed by the horizontally transferred genes is likely an important factor in the adaptation and evolution of A. queenslandica. These findings highlight the potential importance of HGT on the success of sponges in diverse ecological niches.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)