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Arch Microbiol. 2007 May;187(5):397-413. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

Genotypic and phenotypic diversity of cyanobacteria assigned to the genus Phormidium (Oscillatoriales) from different habitats and geographical sites.

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Geomicrobiology, ICBM, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Carl-von-Ossietzky-Str. 9-11, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany.


In this study, 30 strains of filamentous, non-heterocystous cyanobacteria from different habitats and different geographical regions assigned to diverse oscillatorian genera but here collectively referred to as members of the Phormidium group have been characterized using a polyphasic approach by comparing phenotypic and molecular characteristics. The phenotypic analysis dealt with cell and filament morphology, ultrastructure, phycoerythrin content, and complementary chromatic adaptation. The molecular phylogenetic analyses were based on sequences of the 16S rRNA gene and the adjacent intergenic transcribed spacer (ITS). The sequences were located on multiple branches of the inferred cyanobacterial 16S rRNA tree. For some, but not all, strains with identical 16S rDNA sequences, a higher level of discrimination was achieved by analyses of the less conserved ITS sequences. As shown for other cyanobacteria, no correlation was found between position of the strains in the phylogenetic tree and their geographic origin. Genetically similar strains originated from distant sites while other strains isolated from the same sampling site were in different phylogenetic clusters. Also the presence of phycoerythrin was not correlated with the strains' position in the phylogenetic trees. In contrast, there was some correlation among inferred phylogenetic relationship, original environmental habitat, and morphology. Closely related strains came from similar ecosystems and shared the same morphological and ultrastructural features. Nevertheless, structural properties are insufficient in themselves for identification at the genus or species level since some phylogenetically distant members also showed similar morphological traits. Our results reconfirm that the Phormidium group is not phylogenetically coherent and requires revision.

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