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Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Dec;21(12):2340-51. Epub 2004 Sep 8.

Evolution of the RNA polymerase B' subunit gene (rpoB') in Halobacteriales: a complementary molecular marker to the SSU rRNA gene.

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Program in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Many prokaryotes have multiple ribosomal RNA operons. Generally, sequence differences between small subunit (SSU) rRNA genes are minor (<1%) and cause little concern for phylogenetic inference or environmental diversity studies. For Halobacteriales, an order of extremely halophilic, aerobic Archaea, within-genome SSU rRNA sequence divergence can exceed 5%, rendering phylogenetic assignment problematic. The RNA polymerase B' subunit gene (rpoB') is a single-copy conserved gene that may be an appropriate alternative phylogenetic marker for Halobacteriales. We sequenced a fragment of the rpoB' gene from 21 species, encompassing 15 genera of Halobacteriales. To examine the utility of rpoB' as a phylogenetic marker in Halobacteriales, we investigated three properties of rpoB' trees: the variation in resolution between trees inferred from the rpoB' DNA and RpoB' protein alignment, the degree of mutational saturation between taxa, and congruence with the SSU rRNA tree. The rpoB' DNA and protein trees were for the most part congruent and consistently recovered two well-supported monophyletic groups, the clade I and clade II haloarchaea, within a collection of less well resolved Halobacteriales lineages. A comparison of observed versus inferred numbers of substitution revealed mutational saturation in the rpoB' DNA data set, particularly between more distant species. Thus, the RpoB' protein sequence may be more reliable than the rpoB' DNA sequence for inferring Halobacteriales phylogeny. AU tests of tree selection indicated the trees inferred from rpoB' DNA and protein alignments were significantly incongruent with the SSU rRNA tree. We discuss possible explanations for this incongruence, including tree reconstruction artifact, differential paralog sampling, and lateral gene transfer. This is the first study of Halobacteriales evolution based on a marker other than the SSU rRNA gene. In addition, we present a valuable phylogenetic framework encompassing a broad diversity of Halobacteriales, in which novel sequences can be inserted for evolutionary, ecological, or taxonomic investigations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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