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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2015 Oct;91(10). pii: fiv105. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiv105. Epub 2015 Aug 30.

Investigation of XoxF methanol dehydrogenases reveals new methylotrophic bacteria in pelagic marine and freshwater ecosystems.

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Department of Biology, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St West, Montreal, Quebec, H4B 1R6, Canada.
Department of Biology, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St West, Montreal, Quebec, H4B 1R6, Canada Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program, Canada Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Limnologie (GRIL), Montreal, Quebec Canada


The diversity and distribution of methylotrophic bacteria have been investigated in the oceans and lakes using the methanol dehydrogenase mxaF gene as a functional marker. However, pelagic marine (OM43) and freshwater (LD28 and PRD01a001B) methylotrophs within the Betaproteobacteria lack mxaF, instead possessing a related xoxF4-encoded methanol dehydrogenase. Here, we developed and employed xoxF4 as a complementary functional gene marker to mxaF for studying methylotrophs in aquatic environment. Using xoxF4, we detected OM43-related and LD28-related methylotrophs in the ocean and freshwaters of North America, respectively, and showed the coexistence of these two lineages in a large estuarine system (St Lawrence Estuary). Gene expression patterns of xoxF4 supported a positive relationship between xoxF4-containing methylotroph activity and spring time productivity, suggesting phytoplankton blooms are a source of methylotrophic substrates. Further investigation of methanol dehydrogenase diversity in pelagic ecosystems using comparative metagenomics provided strong support for a widespread distribution of xoxF4 (as well as several distinct xoxF5) containing methylotrophs in marine and freshwater surface waters. In total, these results demonstrate a geographical distribution of OM43/LD28-related methylotrophs that includes marine and freshwaters and suggest that methylotrophy occurring in the water column is an important component of lake and estuary carbon cycling and biogeochemistry.


C1 metabolism; LD28; marine OM43 clade; metagenomics; methanol oxidation; methylotrophy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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