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From structure to function of bacterial chromosomes: Evolutionary perspectives and ideas for new experiments

Lagomarsino, Marco Cosentino, Espéli, Olivier, Junier, Ivan
FEBS letters 2015 v.589 pp. 2996-3004
bacteria, chromosomes, field experimentation, fluorescence microscopy, genomics, phylogeny
The link between chromosome structure and function is a challenging open question because chromosomes in vivo are highly dynamic and arduous to manipulate. Here, we examine several promising approaches to tackle this question specifically in bacteria, by integrating knowledge from different sources. Toward this end, we first provide a brief overview of experimental tools that have provided insights into the description of the bacterial chromosome, including genetic, biochemical and fluorescence microscopy techniques. We then explore the possibility of using comparative genomics to isolate functionally important features of chromosome organization, exploiting the fact that features shared between phylogenetically distant bacterial species reflect functional significance. Finally, we discuss possible future perspectives from the field of experimental evolution. Specifically, we propose novel experiments in which bacteria could be screened and selected on the basis of the structural properties of their chromosomes.