The development of next-generation sequencing platforms is set to reveal an unprecedented level of detail on short-term molecular evolutionary processes in bacteria. Here we re-analyse genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) datasets for recently emerged clones of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. We note a highly significant enrichment of synonymous SNPs in those genes which have been affected by recombination, i.e. those genes on mobile elements designated "non-core" (in the case of S. aureus), or those core genes which have been affected by homologous replacements (S. aureus and C. difficile). This observation suggests that the previously documented decrease in dN/dS over time in bacteria applies not only to genomes of differing levels of divergence overall, but also to horizontally acquired genes of differing levels of divergence within a single genome. We also consider the role of increased drift acting on recently emerged, highly specialised clones, and the impact of recombination on selection at linked sites. This work has implications for a wide range of genomic analyses.
Castillo-Ramirez, S., Harris, S. R., Holden, M. T. G., He, M., Parkhill, J., Bentley, S. D., & Feil, E. J. (2011). The Impact of recombination on dN/dS within recently emerged bacterial clones. PLoS Pathogens, 7(7), [e1002129]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1002129