The MIT researchers found that HGT occurs more frequently among bacteria that occupy the same body site, share the same oxygen tolerance
or have the same pathogenicity, leading them to conclude that ecology -- or environmental niche -- is more important than either lineage or geographical proximity in determining if a transferred gene will be incorporated into a bacterium's DNA and passed on to its descendants.
Understanding how oxygen reaches the active site will provide insight into how hydrogenase's oxygen tolerance
can be increased through protein engineering, and, in turn, make hydrogenase an economical source of hydrogen fuel," said UIUC professor Klaus Schulten.
At first, Nilsson says, he thought he'd found especially low oxygen tolerance