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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23742. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023742. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Global distribution of Polaromonas phylotypes--evidence for a highly successful dispersal capacity.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America.


Bacteria from the genus Polaromonas are dominant phylotypes in clone libraries and culture collections from polar and high-elevation environments. Although Polaromonas has been found on six continents, we do not know if the same phylotypes exist in all locations or if they exhibit genetic isolation by distance patterns. To examine their biogeographic distribution, we analyzed all available, long-read 16S rRNA gene sequences of Polaromonas phylotypes from glacial and periglacial environments across the globe. Using genetic isolation by geographic distance analyses, including Mantel tests and Mantel correlograms, we found that Polaromonas phylotypes are globally distributed showing weak isolation by distance patterns at global scales. More focused analyses using discrete, equally sampled distances classes, revealed that only two distance classes (out of 12 total) showed significant spatial structuring. Overall, our analyses show that most Polaromonas phylotypes are truly globally distributed, but that some, as yet unknown, environmental variable may be selecting for unique phylotypes at a minority of our global sites. Analyses of aerobiological and genomic data suggest that Polaromonas phylotypes are globally distributed as dormant cells through high-elevation air currents; Polaromonas phylotypes are common in air and snow samples from high altitudes, and a glacial-ice metagenome and the two sequenced Polaromonas genomes contain the gene hipA, suggesting that Polaromonas can form dormant cells.

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