GMMnet Aim and Scope: The stability of microbial genomes and gene pools will constantly be challenged by horizontal gene transfer and recombination, as well as DNA damage induced by endogenous as well as exogenous agents. Mechanisms for rapid genome varia tion, adaptation and maintenance are a necessity to ensure microbial fitness and survival in rapidly changing environments. At the same time, unravelling the mechanisms driving the abundant horizontal gene taking place in nature and in the human body is o f prime importance.
Understanding DNA repair and horizontal gene transfer mechanisms requires an interdisciplinary approach of molecular biology and bacterial physiology. Importantly, much can be learned by recognition of the structural and functional re lations between systems for transformation and DNA repair. However, several new components specific for these processes are yet to be discovered and a more complete understanding of the entire DNA metabolism in bacterial organisms is required. The emergen ce of DNA sequence data for multiple microbial genomes has revealed marked evolutionary relatedness among genes involved in DNA repair and transformation but also interesting and important differences. In retrospect, such differences would be expected in view of the differences that exist in physiology, life cycles and environmental habitats between these various organisms.
GMMnet activities will highlight recent progress in the understanding of and interactions between components of multiple DNA transf er pathways and genome maintenance systems. These activities are expected to reveal a new integrated comprehension of the basis for the architecture of surface antigens, highly relevant for vaccine development.