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Res Microbiol. 2005 Apr;156(3):434-42. Epub 2005 Jan 12.

An association between ATP binding cassette systems, genome sizes and lifestyles of bacteria.

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Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, Salisbury, SP4 0JQ, UK.


Comparative bioinformatic analyses of ATP binding cassette (ABC) systems encoded in bacterial genomes have been undertaken in order to examine whether the range and distribution of these systems correlates with niches occupied by different organisms. In general, bacteria with larger genomes were found to encode more ABC systems than those with smaller genomes. Environmental bacteria, generally containing the largest genomes, showed the greatest number and diversity of ABC systems. Extracellular bacteria have larger genomes and show higher relative numbers of ABC transporters in comparison to intracellular bacteria. Similar results were obtained when comparing bacteria with different respiratory requirements since aerobic bacteria have larger genomes and also display greater numbers of ABC systems than anaerobes. These results suggest that the number of ABC systems encoded in bacterial genomes correlates with genome size and also with the physiological niche in which bacteria live. Furthermore, the distribution of the ABC systems into families indicates that the process of reductive evolution is responsible for retaining particular types of ABC systems as bacteria adapt to particular niches.

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