Microeconomic principles explain an optimal genome size in bacteria

  • Ranea J
  • Grant A
  • Thornton J
 et al. 
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Bacteria can clearly enhance their survival by expanding their genetic repertoire. However, the tight packing of the bacterial genome and the fact that the most evolved species do not necessarily have the biggest genomes suggest there are other evolutionary factors limiting their genome expansion. To clarify these restrictions on size, we studied those protein families contributing most significantly to bacterial-genome complexity. We found that all bacteria apply the same basic and ancestral 'molecular technology' to optimize their reproductive efficiency. The same microeconomics principles that define the optimum size in a factory can also explain the existence of a statistical optimum in bacterial genome size. This optimum is reached when the bacterial genome obtains the maximum metabolic complexity (revenue) for minimal regulatory genes (logistic cost).

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  • Juan A G Ranea

  • Alastair Grant

  • Janet M. Thornton

  • Christine A. Orengo

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