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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Apr 14;342(3):681-4. Epub 2006 Feb 20.

On the correlation between genomic G+C content and optimal growth temperature in prokaryotes: data quality and confounding factors.

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Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 3J5.


The correlation between genomic G+C content and optimal growth temperature in prokaryotes has gained renewed interest after Musto et al. [H. Musto, H. Naya, A. Zavala, H. Romero, F. Alvarex-Valin, G. Bernardi, Correlations between genomic GC levels and optimal growth temperatures in prokaryotes, FEBS Lett. 573 (2004) 73-77], reported that positive correlations exist in 15 families studied. We have reanalyzed their data and found that when genome size and data quality were adjusted for, there was no significant evidence of relationship between optimal temperature and GC content for two of the families that had previously shown strongly significant correlations. Using updated temperature optima for Halobacteriaceae species we found the correlation is insignificant in this family. For the family Enterobacteriaceae when genome size and optimal temperature are included in a multiple linear regression, only genome size is significant as a predictor of GC content. We showed that more profound statistical methods than simple two factor correlation analysis should be used for analyzing complex intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect genomic GC content. We further found that a positive correlation between temperature and genomic GC is only evident in free-living species of low optimal growth temperatures.

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