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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Apr;77(8):2763-71. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01866-10. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Genomic potential of Marinobacter aquaeolei, a biogeochemical "opportunitroph".

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  • 1Geomicrobiology Group, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


The genus of Marinobacter is one of the most ubiquitous in the global oceans and assumed to significantly impact various biogeochemical cycles. The genome structure and content of Marinobacter aquaeolei VT8 was analyzed and compared with those from other organisms with diverse adaptive strategies. Here, we report the many "opportunitrophic" genetic characteristics and strategies that M. aquaeolei has adopted to promote survival under various environmental conditions. Genome analysis revealed its metabolic potential to utilize oxygen and nitrate as terminal electron acceptors, iron as an electron donor, and urea, phosphonate, and various hydrocarbons as alternative N, P, and C sources, respectively. Miscellaneous sensory and defense mechanisms, apparently acquired via horizontal gene transfer, are involved in the perception of environmental fluctuations and antibiotic, phage, toxin, and heavy metal resistance, enabling survival under adverse conditions, such as oil-polluted water. Multiple putative integrases, transposases, and plasmids appear to have introduced additional metabolic potential, such as phosphonate degradation. The genomic potential of M. aquaeolei and its similarity to other opportunitrophs are consistent with its cosmopolitan occurrence in diverse environments and highly variable lifestyles.

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