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Genome Biol Evol. 2013;5(12):2478-97. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evt195.

Being Aquifex aeolicus: Untangling a hyperthermophile's checkered past.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Abstract

Lateral gene transfer (LGT) is an important factor contributing to the evolution of prokaryotic genomes. The Aquificae are a hyperthermophilic bacterial group whose genes show affiliations to many other lineages, including the hyperthermophilic Thermotogae, the Proteobacteria, and the Archaea. Previous phylogenomic analyses focused on Aquifex aeolicus identified Thermotogae and Aquificae either as successive early branches or sisters in a rooted bacterial phylogeny, but many phylogenies and cellular traits have suggested a stronger affiliation with the Epsilonproteobacteria. Different scenarios for the evolution of the Aquificae yield different phylogenetic predictions. Here, we outline these scenarios and consider the fit of the available data, including three sequenced Aquificae genomes, to different sets of predictions. Evidence from phylogenetic profiles and trees suggests that the Epsilonproteobacteria have the strongest affinities with the three Aquificae analyzed. However, this pattern is shown by only a minority of encoded proteins, and the Archaea, many lineages of thermophilic bacteria, and members of genus Clostridium and class Deltaproteobacteria also show strong connections to the Aquificae. The phylogenetic affiliations of different functional subsystems showed strong biases: Most but not all genes implicated in the core translational apparatus tended to group Aquificae with Thermotogae, whereas a wide range of metabolic and cellular processes strongly supported the link between Aquificae and Epsilonproteobacteria. Depending on which sets of genes are privileged, either Thermotogae or Epsilonproteobacteria is the most plausible adjacent lineage to the Aquificae. Both scenarios require massive sharing of genes to explain the history of this enigmatic group, whose history is further complicated by specific affinities of different members of Aquificae to different partner lineages.

KEYWORDS:

Aquifex aeolicus; Thermotogae; hyperthermophiles; lateral gene transfer; phylogenomics

PMID:
24281050
PMCID:
PMC3879981
DOI:
10.1093/gbe/evt195
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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