In a paper published this week in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, James McInerney has proposed that we can, and should, view a prokaryote pangenome as though it were an ecosystem in its own right.
For many years we have been able to see the effects that genes and sets of genes have had on one another in genomes.
We see conflicts, compromises and cooperations.
Typically when we consider ecosystems we think about marine systems or we think about animals in a savanna or we think about masks are lichens growing on a tree. However in this paper we are being encouraged to view the prokaryote pangenome through the lens of ecology.
In the same way that we see mutualistic interactions between animals and plants and we see competition, predation and a whole host of other kinds of relationship between these animals plants fungi and microbes, we also see analogous situations when we look at genes in genomes.
The reference is:
James O McInerney (2022). Prokaryotic Pangenomes Act as Evolving Ecosystems. Molecular Biology and Evolution, msac232, https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msac232