medical Definition of horizontal gene transfer
- 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