WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TOBACCO AND OTHER SOLANACEAE ABOUT HORIZONTAL DNA TRANSFER?
In eukaryotic organisms, horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is regarded as an important though infrequent source of reticulate evolution. Many confirmed instances of natural HGT involving multicellular eukaryotes come from flowering plants. This review intends to provide a synthesis of present knowledge regarding HGT in higher plants, with an emphasis on tobacco and other species in the Solanaceae family because there are numerous detailed reports concerning natural HGT events, involving various donors, in this family. Moreover, in-depth experimental studies using transgenic tobacco are of great importance for understanding this process. Valuable insights are offered concerning the mechanisms of HGT, the adaptive role and regulation of natural transgenes, and new routes for gene trafficking. With an increasing amount of data on HGT, a synthetic view is beginning to emerge.