horizontal gene transfer

noun

Medical Definition of horizontal gene transfer 

: the transmission of genetic material between genomes and often between genomes of different species This acquisition of foreign genes is generally referred to as horizontal gene transfer (as opposed to vertical inheritance, in which an organism receives DNA from an ancestor).— James O. McInerney and Davide Pisani, Science, 30 Nov. 2007 Much of the genetic machinery needed to facilitate host specificity and virulence is acquired through horizontal gene transfer. Mobile genetic elements, such as transposons, plasmids, or bacteriophages, obtained from strains already adapted to specific hosts, often provide the genes necessary for selective virulence.— Franklin D. Lowy, The New England Journal of Medicine, 26 May 2011

called also lateral gene transfer

Learn More about horizontal gene transfer

Share horizontal gene transfer

Resources for horizontal gene transfer

Comments on horizontal gene transfer

What made you want to look up horizontal gene transfer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!