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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Nov;71(11):7434-41.

Molecular characterization of the nonphotosynthetic partner bacterium in the consortium "Chlorochromatium aggregatum".

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  • 1Bereich Mikrobiologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Maria-Ward-Strasse 1a, D-80638 Munich, Germany.


Phototrophic consortia represent valuable model systems for the study of signal transduction and coevolution between different bacteria. The phototrophic consortium "Chlorochromatium aggregatum" consists of a colorless central rod-shaped bacterium surrounded by about 20 green-pigmented epibionts. Although the epibiont was identified as a member of the green sulfur bacteria, and recently isolated and characterized in pure culture, the central colorless bacterium has been identified as a member of the beta-Proteobacteria but so far could not be characterized further. In the present study, "C. aggregatum" was enriched chemotactically, and the 16S rRNA gene sequence of the central bacterium was elucidated. Based on the sequence information, fluorescence in situ hybridization probes targeting four different regions of the 16S rRNA were designed and shown to hybridize exclusively to cells of the central bacterium. Phylogenetic analyses of the 1,437-bp-long sequence revealed that the central bacterium of "C. aggregatum" represents a so far isolated phylogenetic lineage related to Rhodoferax spp., Polaromonas vacuolata, and Variovorax paradoxus within the family Comamonadaceae. The majority of relatives of this lineage are not yet cultured and were found in low-temperature aquatic environments or aquatic environments containing xenobiotica or hydrocarbons. In CsCl-bisbenzimidazole equilibrium density gradients, genomic DNA of the central bacterium of "Chlorochromatium aggregatum" formed a distinct band which could be detected by quantitative PCR using specific primers. Using this method, the G+C content of the central bacterium was determined to be 55.6 mol%.

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