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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2002 Aug;82(1-4):123-32.

Genome plasticity in Lactococcus lactis.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaire du CNRS (UMR5100), Université Paul Sabatier, 31062 Toulouse, France.


Comparative genome analyses contribute significantly to our understanding of bacterial evolution and indicate that bacterial genomes are constantly evolving structures. The gene content and organisation of chromosomes of lactic acid bacteria probably result from a strong evolutionary pressure toward optimal growth of these microorganisms in milk. The genome plasticity of Lactococcus lactis was evaluated at inter- and intrasubspecies levels by different experimental approaches. Comparative genomics showed that the lactococcal genomes are not highly plastic although large rearrangements (a.o. deletions, inversions) can occur. Experimental genome shuffling using a new genetic strategy based on the Cre-loxP recombination system revealed that two domains are under strong constraints acting to maintain the original chromosome organisation: a large region around the replication origin, and a smaller one around the putative terminus of replication. Future knowledge of the rules leading to an optimal genome organisation could facilitate the definition of new strategies for industrial strain improvement.

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