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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Jan;27(1):99-106.

Differences in chromosome number and genome rearrangements in the genus Brucella.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 431, Faculté de Médecine, Nîmes, France.


We have studied the genomic structure and constructed the SpeI, PacI and I-CeuI restriction maps of the four biovars of the pathogenic bacterium Brucella suis. B. suis biovar 1 has two chromosomes of 2.1 Mb and 1.15 Mb, similar to those of the other Brucella species: B. melitensis, B. abortus, B. ovis and B. neotomae. Two chromosomes were also observed in the genome of B. suis biovars 2 and 4, but with sizes of 1.85 Mb and 1.35 Mb, whereas only one chromosome with a size of 3.1 Mb was found in B. suis biovar 3. We show that the differences in chromosome size and number can be explained by rearrangements at chromosomal regions containing the three rrn genes. The location and orientation of these genes confirmed that these rearrangements are due to homologous recombination at the rrn loci. This observation allows us to propose a scheme for the evolution of the genus Brucella in which the two chromosome-containing strains can emerge from an hypothetical ancestor with a single chromosome, which is probably similar to that of B. suis biovar 3. As the genus Brucella is certainly monospecific, this is the first time that differences in chromosome number have been observed in strains of the same bacterial species.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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