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Protoplast fusion in Bacillus species produces frequent, unbiased, genome-wide homologous recombination...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Nucleic Acids Research
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 13

In eukaryotes, fine-scale maps of meiotic recombination events have greatly advanced our understanding of the factors that affect genomic variation patterns and evolution of traits. However, in bacteria that lack natural systems for sexual reproduction, unbiased characterization of recombination landscapes has remained challenging due to variable rates of genetic exchange and influence of natural selection. Here, to overcome these limitations and to gain a genome-wide view on recombination, we crossed Bacillus strains with different genetic distances using protoplast fusion. The offspring displayed complex inheritance patterns with one of the parents consistently contributing the major part of the chromosome backbone and multiple unselected fragments originating from the second parent. Our results demonstrate that this bias was in part due to the action of restriction–modification systems, whereas genome features like GC content and local nucleotide identity did not affect distribution of recombination events around the chromosome. Furthermore, we found that recombination occurred uniformly across the genome without concentration into hotspots. Notably, our results show that species-level genetic distance did not affect genome-wide recombination. This study provides a new insight into the dynamics of recombination in bacteria and a platform for studying recombination patterns in diverse bacterial species.