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Crit Rev Microbiol. 2004;30(2):123-43.

The phylogeny and signature sequences characteristics of Fibrobacteres, Chlorobi, and Bacteroidetes.

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Department of Biochemistry, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Fibrobacteres, Chlorobi, and Bacteroidetes (FCB group) comprise three main bacterial phyla recognized on the basis of 16S rRNA trees. Presently, there are no distinctive biochemical or molecular characteristics known that can distinguish these bacteria from other bacterial phyla. The relationship of these bacteria to other phyla is also not known. This review describes many signatures, consisting of defined and conserved inserts in widely distributed proteins, that provide distinctive molecular markers for these groups of bacteria. These signatures serve to clarify the evolutionary relationship between members of the FCB group, and to other bacterial phyla. A 4 aa insert in DNA Gyrase B (GyrB) and a 45 aa insert in the SecA proteins are uniquely shared by various Bacteroidetes species. The insert in GyrB is present in all Bacteroidetes species (>100) covering different orders and families, indicating that it is a distinctive characteristic of the group. Three signatures consisting of an 18 aa insert in ATPase alpha-subunit, an 8-9 aa insert in the FtsK protein and a 1 aa insert in the UvrB protein are commonly shared only by the Bacteroidetes and Chlorobi homologs providing evidence that these two groups are specifically related to each other. Two additional inserts in the RNA polymerase beta'-subunit (5-7 aa) and Serine hydroxymethyl-transferase (14-16 aa), which are commonly present in various Bacteroidetes, Chlorobi, and Fibrobacteres homologs, but not any other bacteria, provide evidence that these groups shared a common ancestor exclusive of all other bacteria. The FCB groups of bacteria are indicated to have diverged from this common ancestor in the following order: Fibrobacteres --> Chlorobi --> Bacteriodetes. The inferences from signature sequences are strongly supported by phylogenetic analyses. These observations suggest that the FCB groups of bacteria should be placed in a single phylum rather than three distinct phyla. Signature sequences in a number of other proteins provide evidence that the FCB group of bacteria diverged at a similar time as the Chlamydiae group, and that the Spirochetes and Aquificales groups are its closest relatives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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