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J Bacteriol. Jul 1990; 172(7): 3569–3576.
PMCID: PMC213329

Brucella abortus 16S rRNA and lipid A reveal a phylogenetic relationship with members of the alpha-2 subdivision of the class Proteobacteria.


On the basis of ribosomal 16S sequence comparison, Brucella abortus has been found to be a member of the alpha-2 subdivision of the class Proteobacteria (formerly named purple photosynthetic bacteria and their nonphototrophic relatives). Within the alpha-2 subgroup, brucellae are specifically related to rickettsiae, agrobacteria, and rhizobiae, organisms that also have the faculty or the obligation of living in close association to eucaryotic cells. The composition of Brucella lipid A suggests a close phylogenetical relationship with members of the alpha-2 group. The chemical analysis of the lipid A fraction revealed that Brucella species contain both glucosamine and diaminoglucose, thus suggesting the presence of a so-called mixed lipid A type. The serological analysis with polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies is in agreement with the existence of mixed lipid A type in B. abortus. The amide-linked fatty acid present as acyl-oxyacyl residues were 3-O-C(16:0)12:0, 3-O-C(16:0)13:0, 3-O-C(16:0)14:0, and 3-O-C(18:0)14:0. The only amide-linked unsubstituted fatty acid detected was 3-OH-C16:0. The ester-linked fatty acids are 3-OH-C16:0, 3-OH-C18:0, C16:0, C17:0, and C18:0. Significant amounts of the large-chain 27-OH-C28:0 were detected together with traces of 25-OH-C26:0 and 29-OH-C30:0. Comparison of the Brucella lipid composition with that of the other Proteobacteria also suggests a close phylogenetical relationship with members of the alpha-2 subdivision. The genealogical grouping of Brucella species with pericellular and intracellular plant and animal pathogens as well as with intracellular plant symbionts suggests a possible evolution of Brucella species from plant-arthropod-associated bacteria.

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