The significant genome compaction in mycoplasmas was made possible by adoption of a parasitic lifestyle. During their evolution and adaptation to a parasitic mode of life the mycoplasmas have developed various genetic systems enabling their attachment to host tissues as well as a highly plastic set of variable surface proteins. The generation of a versatile surface coat through high-frequency phase and size variation provides the organism with a useful tool for immune system avoidance, allowing the mycoplasmas to escape antibody attack, explaining why these minute organisms are such successful parasites.

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