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Journal of Parasitology Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 3241027, 10 pages
Research Article

Horizontal Gene Transfers from Bacteria to Entamoeba Complex: A Strategy for Dating Events along Species Divergence

Faculty of Experimental Medicine, Experimental Immunology Laboratory, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Dr. Balmis 148, Colonia Doctores, 06720 Mexico City, Mexico

Received 10 January 2016; Accepted 3 April 2016

Academic Editor: Swapnil Sinha

Copyright © 2016 Miguel Romero et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Horizontal gene transfer has proved to be relevant in eukaryotic evolution, as it has been found more often than expected and related to adaptation to certain niches. A relatively large list of laterally transferred genes has been proposed and evaluated for the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. The goals of this work were to elucidate the importance of lateral gene transfer along the evolutionary history of some members of the genus Entamoeba, through identifying donor groups and estimating the divergence time of some of these events. In order to estimate the divergence time of some of the horizontal gene transfer events, the dating of some Entamoeba species was necessary, following an indirect dating strategy based on the fossil record of plausible hosts. The divergence between E. histolytica and E. nuttallii probably occurred 5.93 million years ago (Mya); this lineage diverged from E. dispar 9.97 Mya, while the ancestor of the latter separated from E. invadens 68.18 Mya. We estimated times for 22 transferences; the most recent occurred 31.45 Mya and the oldest 253.59 Mya. Indeed, the acquisition of genes through lateral transfer may have triggered a period of adaptive radiation, thus playing a major role in the evolution of the Entamoeba genus.