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Recombination and reassortment

Giovanni Maga maga at vetbio.unizh.ch
Mon Mar 27 01:38:04 EST 1995

In article <3kv88c$175o at news.ccit.arizona.edu>, Martin Hewlett
<marty_hewlett at TIKAL.BIOSCI.ARIZONA.EDU> wrote:

(...deleted)  I think the confusion arises
> from two different uses of the word "recombination."  There is the geneticist's
> usage, meaning "new or novel combinations of genes."  And then there's the
> biochemist's usage, meaning "breakage and reformation of covalent
> bonds, creating a new nucleic acid."  In the first sense, reassortants
> are recombinants, in the second sense, they are not.
> Marty Hewlett
> Dept. of Mol. and Cell. Biol.
> University of Arizona

I think the proper meaning of recombination *is* a new combination of genes
which indeed occurs *through* the physical rearrangement of DNA. In the
absence of cross-over it is not correct to speak about recombination. If
new genes are taken up by the organism, that are carried by single
chromosomes or plasmids without physical rearrangement it can be
reassortement or transfer but not recombination (in a proper way,
actually). After all, when a bacterium receives a new plasmid, it is not
referred as a recombinational event.
Any opinion about that is of course welcome.
maga at vetbio.unizh.ch 

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