The unexpected complexity of bacterial genomes

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  • School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham


Gene organization and control are described by models conceived in the 1960s. These models explain basic gene regulatory mechanisms and underpin current genome annotation. However, such models struggle to explain recent genome-scale observations. For example, accounts of RNA synthesis initiating within genes, widespread antisense transcription and non-canonical DNA binding by gene regulatory proteins are difficult to reconcile with traditional thinking. As a result, unexpected observations have often been dismissed and downstream consequences ignored. In this paper I will argue that, to fully understand the biology of bacterial chromosomes, we must embrace their hidden layers of complexity.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1172
Number of pages6
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Journal Article