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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Apr 13;197(2):171-8.

Phylogeny and distribution of the soxB gene among thiosulfate-oxidizing bacteria.

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Institut für Meereskunde, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105, Kiel, Germany.


A PCR protocol for the detection of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria based on soxB genes that are essential for thiosulfate oxidation by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria of various phylogenetic groups which use the 'Paracoccus sulfur oxidation' pathway was developed. Five degenerate primers were used to specifically amplify fragments of soxB genes from different sulfur-oxidizing bacteria previously shown to oxidize thiosulfate. The PCR yielded a soxB fragment of approximately 1000 bp from most of the bacteria. Amino acid and nucleotide sequences of soxB from reference strains as well as from new isolates and environmental DNA from a hydrothermal vent habitat in the North Fiji Basin were compared and used to infer relationships of soxB between sulfur-oxidizing bacteria belonging to various 16S rDNA-based phylogenetic groups. Major phylogenetic lines derived from 16S rDNA were confirmed by soxB phylogeny. Thiosulfate-oxidizing green sulfur bacteria formed a coherent group by their soxB sequences. Likewise, clearly separated branches demonstrated the distant relationship of representatives of alpha-, beta-, and gamma-Proteobacteria including representative species of the former genus Thiobacillus (now Halothiobacillus - gamma-Proteobacteria, Thiobacillus - beta-Proteobacteria and Starkeya - alpha-Proteobacteria). This general picture emerged although apparent evidence for lateral transfer of the soxB gene is indicated and comparison of soxB phylogeny and 16S rDNA phylogeny points to the significance of this gene transfer in hydrothermal vent bacterial communities of the North Fiji Basin.

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