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Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2004 Nov;54(Pt 6):2095-105.

Dissection of phylogenetic relationships among 19 rapidly growing Mycobacterium species by 16S rRNA, hsp65, sodA, recA and rpoB gene sequencing.

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Unité des Rickettsies, CNRS UMR 6020 IFR 48, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, 27, Boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 05, France.


The current classification of non-pigmented and late-pigmenting rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) capable of producing disease in humans and animals consists primarily of three groups, the Mycobacterium fortuitum group, the Mycobacterium chelonae-abscessus group and the Mycobacterium smegmatis group. Since 1995, eight emerging species have been tentatively assigned to these groups on the basis of their phenotypic characters and 16S rRNA gene sequence, resulting in confusing taxonomy. In order to assess further taxonomic relationships among RGM, complete sequences of the 16S rRNA gene (1483-1489 bp), rpoB (3486-3495 bp) and recA (1041-1056 bp) and partial sequences of hsp65 (420 bp) and sodA (441 bp) were determined in 19 species of RGM. Phylogenetic trees based upon each gene sequence, those based on the combined dataset of the five gene sequences and one based on the combined dataset of the rpoB and recA gene sequences were then compared using the neighbour-joining, maximum-parsimony and maximum-likelihood methods after using the incongruence length difference test. Combined datasets of the five gene sequences comprising nearly 7000 bp and of the rpoB+recA gene sequences comprising nearly 4600 bp distinguished six phylogenetic groups, the M. chelonae-abscessus group, the Mycobacterium mucogenicum group, the M. fortuitum group, the Mycobacterium mageritense group, the Mycobacterium wolinskyi group and the M. smegmatis group, respectively comprising four, three, eight, one, one and two species. The two protein-encoding genes rpoB and recA improved meaningfully the bootstrap values at the nodes of the different groups. The species M. mucogenicum, M. mageritense and M. wolinskyi formed new groups separated from the M. chelonae-abscessus, M. fortuitum and M. smegmatis groups, respectively. The M. mucogenicum group was well delineated, in contrast to the M. mageritense and M. wolinskyi groups. For phylogenetic organizations derived from the hsp65 and sodA gene sequences, the bootstrap values at the nodes of a few clusters were <70 %. In contrast, phylogenetic organizations obtained from the 16S rRNA, rpoB and recA genes were globally similar to that inferred from combined datasets, indicating that the rpoB and recA genes appeared to be useful tools in addition to the 16S rRNA gene for the investigation of evolutionary relationships among RGM species. Moreover, rpoB gene sequence analysis yielded bootstrap values higher than those observed with recA and 16S rRNA genes. Also, molecular signatures in the rpoB and 16S rRNA genes of the M. mucogenicum group showed that it was a sister group of the M. chelonae-abscessus group. In this group, M. mucogenicum ATCC 49650(T) was clearly distinguished from M. mucogenicum ATCC 49649 with regard to analysis of the five gene sequences. This was in agreement with phenotypic and biochemical characteristics and suggested that these strains are representatives of two closely related, albeit distinct species.

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