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Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2007 Mar;57(Pt 3):489-503.

Multilocus sequence analysis of Ensifer and related taxa.

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Laboratorium voor Microbiologie (WE10), Universiteit Gent, KL Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


Multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) was performed on representatives of Ensifer (including species previously assigned to the genus Sinorhizobium) and related taxa. Neighbour-joining (NJ), maximum-parsimony (MP) and maximum-likelihood (ML) phylogenies of dnaK, gltA, glnA, recA, thrC and 16S rRNA genes were compared. The data confirm that the potential for discrimination of Ensifer species is greater using MLSA of housekeeping genes than 16S rRNA genes. In incongruence-length difference tests, the 16S rRNA gene was found to be significantly incongruent with the other genes, indicating that this gene should not be used as a single indicator of relatedness in this group. Significant congruence was detected for dnaK, glnA and thrC. Analyses of concatenated sequences of dnaK, glnA and thrC genes yielded very similar NJ, MP and ML trees, with high bootstrap support. In addition, analysis of a concatenation of all six genes essentially produced the same result, levelling out potentially conflicting phylogenetic signals. This new evidence supports the proposal to unite Ensifer and Sinorhizobium in a single genus. Support for an alternative solution preserving the two genera is less strong. In view of the opinions expressed by the Judicial Commission, the name of the genus should be Ensifer, as proposed by Young [Young, J. M. (2003). Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 53, 2107-2110]. Data obtained previously and these new data indicate that Ensifer adhaerens and 'Sinorhizobium morelense' are not heterotypic synonyms, but represent separate species. However, transfer to the genus Ensifer is not possible at present because the species name is the subject of a pending Request for an Opinion, which would affect whether a novel species in the genus Ensifer or a new combination based on a basonym would be created.

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