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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 9;107(6):2383-90. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907041107. Epub 2010 Feb 2.

Proteogenomic basis for ecological divergence of closely related bacteria in natural acidophilic microbial communities.

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  • 1University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Abstract

Bacterial species concepts are controversial. More widely accepted is the need to understand how differences in gene content and sequence lead to ecological divergence. To address this relationship in ecosystem context, we investigated links between genotype and ecology of two genotypic groups of Leptospirillum group II bacteria in comprehensively characterized, natural acidophilic biofilm communities. These groups share 99.7% 16S rRNA gene sequence identity and 95% average amino acid identity between their orthologs. One genotypic group predominates during early colonization, and the other group typically proliferates in later successional stages, forming distinct patches tens to hundreds of micrometers in diameter. Among early colonizing populations, we observed dominance of five genotypes that differed from each other by the extent of recombination with the late colonizing type. Our analyses suggest that the specific recombinant variant within the early colonizing group is selected for by environmental parameters such as temperature, consistent with recombination as a mechanism for ecological fine tuning. Evolutionary signatures, and strain-resolved expression patterns measured via mass spectrometry-based proteomics, indicate increased cobalamin biosynthesis, (de)methylation, and glycine cleavage in the late colonizer. This may suggest environmental changes within the biofilm during development, accompanied by redirection of compatible solutes from osmoprotectants toward metabolism. Across 27 communities, comparative proteogenomic analyses show that differential regulation of shared genes and expression of a small subset of the approximately 15% of genes unique to each genotype are involved in niche partitioning. In summary, the results show how subtle genetic variations can lead to distinct ecological strategies.

PMID:
20133593
PMCID:
PMC2823883
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0907041107
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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