Mechanisms and impact of genetic recombination in the evolution of Streptococcus pneumoniae

Chrispin Chaguza, Jennifer E. Cornick, Dean B. Everett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is a highly recombinogenic bacterium responsible for a high burden of human disease globally. Genetic recombination, a process in which exogenous DNA is acquired and incorporated into its genome, is a key evolutionary mechanism employed by the pneumococcus to rapidly adapt to selective pressures. The rate at which the pneumococcus acquires genetic variation through recombination is much higher than the rate at which the organism acquires variation through spontaneous mutations. This higher rate of variation allows the pneumococcus to circumvent the host innate and adaptive immune responses, escape clinical interventions, including antibiotic therapy and vaccine introduction. The rapid influx of whole genome sequence (WGS) data and the advent of novel analysis methods and powerful computational tools for population genetics and evolution studies has transformed our understanding of how genetic recombination drives pneumococcal adaptation and evolution. Here we discuss how genetic recombination has impacted upon the evolution of the pneumococcus.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
StatePublished - 2015


  • Evolution
  • Genetic recombination
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae


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