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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2008 Oct;66(1):45-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00472.x. Epub 2008 Mar 19.

Comparative genomics of the pIPO2/pSB102 family of environmental plasmids: sequence, evolution, and ecology of pTer331 isolated from Collimonas fungivorans Ter331.

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Centre for Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW, Heteren, The Netherlands.


Plasmid pTer331 from the bacterium Collimonas fungivorans Ter331 is a new member of the pIPO2/pSB102 family of environmental plasmids. The 40 457-bp sequence of pTer331 codes for 44 putative ORFs, most of which represent genes involved in replication, partitioning and transfer of the plasmid. We confirmed that pTer331 is stably maintained in its native host. Deletion analysis identified a mini-replicon capable of replicating autonomously in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas putida. Furthermore, plasmid pTer331 was able to mobilize and retromobilize IncQ plasmid pSM1890 at typical rates of 10(-4) and 10(-8), respectively. Analysis of the 91% DNA sequence identity between pTer331 and pIPO2 revealed functional conservation of coding sequences, the deletion of DNA fragments flanked by short direct repeats (DR), and sequence preservation of long DRs. In addition, we experimentally established that pTer331 has no obvious contribution in several of the phenotypes that are characteristic of its host C. fungivorans Ter331, including the ability to efficiently colonize plant roots. Based on our findings, we hypothesize that cryptic plasmids such as pTer331 and pIPO2 might not confer an individual advantage to bacteria, but, due to their broad-host-range and ability to retromobilize, benefit bacterial populations by accelerating the intracommunal dissemination of the mobile gene pool.

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