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ISME J. 2012 Aug;6(8):1613-6. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.20. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Genomic evidence of rapid, global-scale gene flow in a Sulfolobus species.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA.


Local populations of Sulfolobus islandicus diverge genetically with geographical separation, and this has been attributed to restricted transfer of propagules imposed by the unfavorable spatial distribution of acidic geothermal habitat. We tested the generality of genetic divergence with distance in Sulfolobus species by analyzing genomes of Sulfolobus acidocaldarius drawn from three populations separated by more than 8000‚ÄČkm. In sharp contrast to S. islandicus, the geographically diverse S. acidocaldarius genomes proved to be nearly identical. We could not link the difference in genome conservation between the two species to a corresponding difference in genome stability or ecological factors affecting propagule dispersal. The results provide the first evidence that genetic isolation of local populations does not result primarily from properties intrinsic to Sulfolobus and the severe discontinuity of its geothermal habitat, but varies with species, and thus may reflect biotic interactions that act after propagule dispersal.

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