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Ancient horizontal gene transfer and the last common ancestors

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, April 2015
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (78th percentile)

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11 tweeters
2 Google+ users


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88 Mendeley
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Ancient horizontal gene transfer and the last common ancestors
Published in
BMC Evolutionary Biology, April 2015
DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0350-0
Pubmed ID

Gregory P Fournier, Cheryl P Andam, Johann Peter Gogarten


The genomic history of prokaryotic organismal lineages is marked by extensive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) between groups of organisms at all taxonomic levels. These HGT events have played an essential role in the origin and distribution of biological innovations. Analyses of ancient gene families show that HGT existed in the distant past, even at the time of the organismal last universal common ancestor (LUCA). Most gene transfers originated in lineages that have since gone extinct. Therefore, one cannot assume that the last common ancestors of each gene were all present in the same cell representing the cellular ancestor of all extant life. Organisms existing as part of a diverse ecosystem at the time of LUCA likely shared genetic material between lineages. If these other lineages persisted for some time, HGT with the descendants of LUCA could have continued into the bacterial and archaeal lineages. Phylogenetic analyses of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase protein families support the hypothesis that the molecular common ancestors of the most ancient gene families did not all coincide in space and time. This is most apparent in the evolutionary histories of seryl-tRNA synthetase and threonyl-tRNA synthetase protein families, each containing highly divergent "rare" forms, as well as the sparse phylogenetic distributions of pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase, and the bacterial heterodimeric form of glycyl-tRNA synthetase. These topologies and phyletic distributions are consistent with horizontal transfers from ancient, likely extinct branches of the tree of life. Of all the organisms that may have existed at the time of LUCA, by definition only one lineage is survived by known progeny; however, this lineage retains a genomic record of heterogeneous genetic origins. The evolutionary histories of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRS) are especially informative in detecting this signal, as they perform primordial biological functions, have undergone several ancient HGT events, and contain many sites with low substitution rates allowing deep phylogenetic reconstruction. We conclude that some aaRS families contain groups that diverge before LUCA. We propose that these ancient gene variants be described by the term "hypnologs", reflecting their ancient, reticulate origin from a time in life history that has been all but erased."

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 11 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 88 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 88 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 11 13%
Student > Master 4 5%
Student > Doctoral Student 4 5%
Researcher 4 5%
Student > Bachelor 3 3%
Other 7 8%
Unknown 55 63%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 15 17%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 10 11%
Psychology 1 1%
Immunology and Microbiology 1 1%
Environmental Science 1 1%
Other 4 5%
Unknown 56 64%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 7. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 16 April 2018.
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Altmetric has tracked 17,356,510 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done well and is in the 80th percentile: it's in the top 25% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 2,801 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 10.7. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 67% of its peers.
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