Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Barbara

Unusual metabolism and hypervariation in the genome of a Gracilibacteria (BD1-5) from an oil degrading community

Published Web Location

Abstract The Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR) comprises a large monophyletic group of bacterial lineages known almost exclusively based on genomes obtained using cultivation-independent methods. Within the CPR, Gracilibacteria (BD1-5) are particularly poorly understood due to undersampling and the inherent fragmented nature of available genomes. Here, we report the first closed, curated genome of a Gracilibacteria from an enrichment experiment inoculated from the Gulf of Mexico and designed to investigate hydrocarbon degradation. The gracilibacterium rose in abundance after the community switched to dominance by Colwellia . Notably, we predict that this gracilibacterium completely lacks glycolysis, the pentose phosphate and Entner-Doudoroff pathways. It appears to acquire pyruvate, acetyl-CoA and oxaloacetate via degradation of externally derived citrate, malate and amino acids and may use compound interconversion and oxidoreductases to generate and recycle reductive power. The initial genome assembly was fragmented in an unusual gene that is hypervariable within a repeat region. Such extreme local variation is rare, but characteristic of genes that confer traits under pressure to diversify within a population. Notably, the four major repeated 9-mer nucleotide sequences all generate a proline-threonine-aspartic acid (PTD) repeat. The genome of an abundant Colwellia psychrerythraea population has a large extracellular protein that also contains the repeated PTD motif. Although we do not know the host for the BD1-5 cell, the high relative abundance of the C. psychrerythraea population and the shared surface protein repeat may indicate an association between these bacteria. Importance CPR bacteria are generally predicted to be symbionts due to their extensive biosynthetic deficits. Although monophyletic, they are not monolithic in terms of their lifestyles. The organism described here appears to have evolved an unusual metabolic platform not reliant on glucose or pentose sugars. Its biology appears to be centered around bacterial host-derived compounds and/or cell detritus. Amino acids likely provide building blocks for nucleic acids, peptidoglycan and protein synthesis. We resolved an unusual repeat region that would be invisible without genome curation. The nucleotide sequence is apparently under strong diversifying selection but the amino acid sequence is under stabilizing selection. The amino acid repeat also occurs in a surface protein of a coexisting bacterium, suggesting co-location and possibly interdependence.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View