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Mol Biol Evol. 2012 Feb;29(2):797-809. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msr249. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Population genomics in bacteria: a case study of Staphylococcus aureus.

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  • 1Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan.

Abstract

We analyzed the genome-wide pattern of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a sample with 12 strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Population structure of S. aureus seems to be complex, and the 12 strains were divided into five groups, named A, B, C, D, and E. We conducted a detailed analysis of the topologies of gene genealogies across the genomes and observed a high rate and frequency of tree-shape switching, indicating extensive homologous recombination. Most of the detected recombination occurred in the ancestral population of A, B, and C, whereas there are a number of small regions that exhibit evidence for homologous recombination with a distinct related species. As such regions would contain a number of novel mutations, it is suggested that homologous recombination would play a crucial role to maintain genetic variation within species. In the A-B-C ancestral population, we found multiple lines of evidence that the coalescent pattern is very similar to what is expected in a panmictic population, suggesting that this population is suitable to apply the standard population genetic theories. Our analysis showed that homologous recombination caused a dramatic decay in linkage disequilibrium (LD) and there is almost no LD between SNPs with distance more than 10 kb. Coalescent simulations demonstrated that a high rate of homologous recombination-a relative rate of 0.6 to the mutation rate with an average tract length of about 10 kb-is required to produce patterns similar to those observed in the S. aureus genomes. Our results call for more research into the evolutionary role of homologous recombination in bacterial populations.

PMID:
22009061
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3350317
Free PMC Article

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