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Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2014 Feb;64(Pt 2):357-65. doi: 10.1099/ijs.0.057927-0.

Genotype to phenotype: identification of diagnostic vibrio phenotypes using whole genome sequences.

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Institute of Biology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil.


Vibrios are ubiquitous in the aquatic environment and can be found in association with animal or plant hosts. The range of ecological relationships includes pathogenic and mutualistic associations. To gain a better understanding of the ecology of these microbes, it is important to determine their phenotypic features. However, the traditional phenotypic characterization of vibrios has been expensive, time-consuming and restricted in scope to a limited number of features. In addition, most of the commercial systems applied for phenotypic characterization cannot characterize the broad spectrum of environmental strains. A reliable and possible alternative is to obtain phenotypic information directly from whole genome sequences. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the usefulness of whole genome sequences as a source of phenotypic information. We performed a comparison of the vibrio phenotypes obtained from the literature with the phenotypes obtained from whole genome sequences. We observed a significant correlation between the previously published phenotypic data and the phenotypic data retrieved from whole genome sequences of vibrios. Analysis of 26 vibrio genomes revealed that all genes coding for the specific proteins involved in the metabolic pathways responsible for positive phenotypes of the 14 diagnostic features (Voges-Proskauer reaction, indole production, arginine dihydrolase, ornithine decarboxylase, utilization of myo-inositol, sucrose and L-leucine, and fermentation of D-mannitol, D-sorbitol, L-arabinose, trehalose, cellobiose, D-mannose and D-galactose) were found in the majority of the vibrios genomes. Vibrio species that were negative for a given phenotype revealed the absence of all or several genes involved in the respective biochemical pathways, indicating the utility of this approach to characterize the phenotypes of vibrios. The absence of the global regulation and regulatory proteins in the Vibrio parahaemolyticus genome indicated a non-vibrio phenotype. Whole genome sequences represent an important source for the phenotypic identification of vibrios.

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