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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 4;6(2):e16759. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016759.

Evidence for the role of horizontal transfer in generating pVT1, a large mosaic conjugative plasmid from the clam pathogen, Vibrio tapetis.

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Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Environnement Marin, UMR 6539, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, CNRS, Plouzané, France.


The marine bacterium Vibrio tapetis is the causative agent of the brown ring disease, which affects the clam Ruditapes philippinarum and causes heavy economic losses in North of Europe and in Eastern Asia. Further characterization of V. tapetis isolates showed that all the investigated strains harbored at least one large plasmid. We determined the sequence of the 82,266 bp plasmid pVT1 from the CECT4600(T) reference strain and analyzed its genetic content. pVT1 is a mosaic plasmid closely related to several conjugative plasmids isolated from Vibrio vulnificus strains and was shown to be itself conjugative in Vibrios. In addition, it contains DNA regions that have similarity with several other plasmids from marine bacteria (Vibrio sp., Shewanella sp., Listonella anguillarum and Photobacterium profundum). pVT1 contains a number of mobile elements, including twelve Insertion Sequences or inactivated IS genes and an RS1 phage element related to the CTXphi phage of V. cholerae. The genetic organization of pVT1 underscores an important role of horizontal gene transfer through conjugative plasmid shuffling and transposition events in the acquisition of new genetic resources and in generating the pVT1 modular organization. In addition, pVT1 presents a copy number of 9, relatively high for a conjugative plasmid, and appears to belong to a new type of replicon, which may be specific to Vibrionaceae and Shewanelleacae.

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