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Microbiology. 2002 Sep;148(Pt 9):2831-46.

Molecular phylogeny of type II methane-oxidizing bacteria isolated from various environments.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch Strasse, 35043 Marburg, Germany.


Type II methane-oxidizing bacteria (MOB) were isolated from diverse environments, including rice paddies, pristine and polluted freshwaters and sediments, mangrove roots, upland soils, brackish water ecosystems, moors, oil wells, water purification systems and livestock manure. Isolates were identified based on morphological traits as either Methylocystis spp., Methylosinus sporium or Methylosinus trichosporium. Molecular phylogenies were constructed based on nearly complete 16S rRNA gene sequences, and on partial sequences of genes encoding PmoA (a subunit of particulate methane monooxygenase), MxaF (a subunit of methanol dehydrogenase) and MmoX (a subunit of soluble methane monooxygenase). The maximum pairwise 16S rDNA difference between isolates was 4.2%, and considerable variability was evident within the Methylocystis (maximum difference 3.6%). Due to this variability, some of the published 'specific' oligonucleotide primers for type II MOB exhibit multiple mismatches with gene sequences from some isolates. The phylogenetic tree constructed from pmoA gene sequences closely mirrored that constructed from 16S rDNA sequences, and both supported the presently accepted taxonomy of type II MOB. Contrary to previously published phylogenetic trees, morphologically distinguishable species were generally monophyletic based on pmoA or 16S rRNA gene sequences. This was not true for phylogenies constructed from mmoX and mxaF gene sequences. The phylogeny of mxaF gene sequences suggested that horizontal transfer of this gene may have occurred across type II MOB species. Soluble methane monooxygenase could not be detected in many Methylocystis strains either by an enzyme activity test (oxidation of naphthalene) or by PCR-based amplification of an mmoX gene.

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