Because increasing importance is being placed on recombinant microbial products in agriculture and environmental management, it is necessary to develop procedures that have a predictive value in studying gene transfer in the environment. Such gene transfer may result in new phenotypes that can perturb existing equilibria in the ecosystem. However, gene transfer in the natural environment is affected by a large number of unpredictable and dynamic physicochemical and biological factors. At the present time, little is known about the ecology, physiology, and genetics of the hundreds of microbial species that inhabit soils and waters. For this reason, it is impossible to test or understand all the possible genetic interactions. A balance between laboratory and in situ studies may be a productive approach, as has been demonstrated by several of the studies cited in this review. The effects of introduced organisms on the environment and particularly the horizontal movement of genetic material poses an interdisciplinary challenge to academics, industry, and regulatory agencies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Molecular Biology