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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Multilocus sequence typing reveals evidence of homologous recombination linked to antibiotic resistance in the genus Salinispora.

  • Author(s): Freel, Kelle C
  • Millán-Aguiñaga, Natalie
  • Jensen, Paul R
  • et al.

The three closely related species that currently comprise the genus Salinispora were analyzed using a multilocus sequence typing approach targeting 48 strains derived from four geographic locations. Phylogenetic congruence and a well-supported concatenated tree provide strong support for the delineation of the three species as currently described and the basal relationship of Salinispora arenicola to the more recently diverged sister taxa S. tropica and S. pacifica. The phylogeny of the initial region of the rpoB gene sequenced was atypical, placing the related genera Micromonospora and Verrucosispora within the Salinispora clade. This phylogenetic incongruence was subsequently ascribed to a homologous-recombination event in a portion of the gene associated with resistance to compounds in the rifamycin class, which target RpoB. All S. arenicola strains produced compounds in this class and possessed resistance-conferring amino acid changes in RpoB. The phylogeny of a region of the rpoB gene that is not associated with rifamycin resistance was congruent with the other housekeeping genes. The link between antibiotic resistance and homologous recombination suggests that incongruent phylogenies provide opportunities to identify the molecular targets of secondary metabolites, an observation with potential relevance for drug discovery efforts. Low ratios of interspecies recombination to mutation, even among cooccurring strains, coupled with high levels of within-species recombination suggest that the three species have been described in accordance with natural barriers to recombination.

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