The acquisition by an organism of genetic information by transfer, for example via the agency of a virus, from an organism that is not its parent and is typically a member of a different species.
- For genes that are present in only a few species, it is a priori more difficult to discriminate between horizontal gene transfer to multiple species and extensive loss of the gene in many lineages.
- Another source of variation in codon usage is horizontal gene transfer, as the transferred genes tend to have a codon usage different from that of the host organism.
- The past decade has produced an increasing number of reports on horizontal gene transfer between prokaryotic organisms.
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