Many bacteria can instantly exchange genetic information, for example by transferring plasmids, extra chromosomal genetic elements coding non essential functions. This is considered to underlie the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance in microbes - a major public health threat globally.
However, we still do not know the actual extent of horizontal gene transfer in the environment: how many and what types of microorganisms participate? what environmental conditions modulate transfer? what is the fate of the genetic material transferred?
At DTU Environment we have developed a technique that allows tracking gene transfer and explore these questions.