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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Sep;62(9):3284-91.

Phenotypic and phylogenetic analyses show Microcoleus chthonoplastes to be a cosmopolitan cyanobacterium.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany.


We used micromanipulation to isolate from their environment representative samples of seven geographically distant field populations fitting the description of Microcoleus chthonoplastes (a cyanobacterium) and obtained seven corresponding cultured strains. Samples of both field populations and cultures were phenotypically characterized by microscale techniques, and their partial 16S rRNA gene sequences were compared by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and in some cases by sequencing. All field populations and strains were phenotypically extremely coherent, and their 16S rRNA sequences were indistinguishable by DGGE. The sequences determined were identical or virtually identical. Thus, M. chthonoplastes represents a single, well-delimited taxon with a truly cosmopolitan distribution. Comparison with three culture collection strains originally assigned to M. chthonoplastes revealed that strain PCC 7420 belongs to the same tightly delimited group, both phenotypically and in 16S rRNA gene sequence, but that strains SAG 3192 and 10mfx do not.

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