Contribution of phage-derived genomic islands to the virulence of facultative bacterial pathogens

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SummaryFacultative pathogens have extremely dynamic pan-genomes, to a large extent derived from bacteriophages and other mobile elements. We developed a simple approach to identify phage-derived genomic islands and apply it to show that pathogens from diverse bacterial genera are significantly enriched in clustered phage-derived genes compared with related benign strains. These findings show that genome expansion by integration of prophages containing virulence factors is a major route of evolution of facultative bacterial pathogens.

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