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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Jul;66(7):2842-52.

Molecular diversity of plasmids bearing genes that encode toluene and xylene metabolism in Pseudomonas strains isolated from different contaminated sites in Belarus.

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  • 1Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland. sentchilo@eawag.ch


Twenty different Pseudomonas strains utilizing m-toluate were isolated from oil-contaminated soil samples near Minsk, Belarus. Seventeen of these isolates carried plasmids ranging in size from 78 to about 200 kb (assigned pSVS plasmids) and encoding the meta cleavage pathway for toluene metabolism. Most plasmids were conjugative but of unknown incompatibility groups, except for one, which belonged to the IncP9 group. The organization of the genes for toluene catabolism was determined by restriction analysis and hybridization with xyl gene probes of pWW0. The majority of the plasmids carried xyl-type genes highly homologous to those of pWW53 and organized in a similar manner (M. T. Gallegos, P. A. Williams, and J. L. Ramos, J. Bacteriol. 179:5024-5029, 1997), with two distinguishable meta pathway operons, one upper pathway operon, and three xylS-homologous regions. All of these plasmids also possessed large areas of homologous DNA outside the catabolic genes, suggesting a common ancestry. Two other pSVS plasmids carried only one meta pathway operon, one upper pathway operon, and one copy each of xylS and xylR. The backbones of these two plasmids differed greatly from those of the others. Whereas these parts of the plasmids, carrying the xyl genes, were mostly conserved between plasmids of each group, the noncatabolic parts had undergone intensive DNA rearrangements. DNA sequencing of specific regions near and within the xylTE and xylA genes of the pSVS plasmids confirmed the strong homologies to the xyl genes of pWW53 and pWW0. However, several recombinations were discovered within the upper pathway operons of the pSVS plasmids and pWW0. The main genetic mechanisms which are thought to have resulted in the present-day configuration of the xyl operons are discussed in light of the diversity analysis carried out on the pSVS plasmids.

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