The class Gammaproteobacteria, which forms one of the largest groups within bacteria, is currently distinguished from other bacteria solely on the basis of its branching in phylogenetic trees. No molecular or biochemical characteristic is known that is unique to the class Gammaproteobacteria or its different subgroups (orders). The relationship among different orders of gammaproteobacteria is also not clear. In this study, we present detailed phylogenomic and comparative genomic analyses on gammaproteobacteria that clarify some of these issues. Phylogenetic trees based on concatenated sequences for 13 and 36 universally distributed proteins were constructed for 45 members of the class Gammaproteobacteria covering 13 of its 14 orders. In these trees, species from a number of the subgroups formed distinct clades and their relative branching order was indicated as follows (from the most recent to the earliest diverging): Enterobacteriales >Pasteurellales >Vibrionales, Aeromonadales >Alteromonadales >Oceanospirillales, Pseudomonadales >Chromatiales, Legionellales, Methylococcales, Xanthomonadales, Cardiobacteriales, Thiotrichales. Four conserved indels in four widely distributed proteins that are specific for gammaproteobacteria are also described. A 2 aa deletion in 5′-phosphoribosyl-5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide transformylase (AICAR transformylase; PurH) was a distinctive characteristic of all gammaproteobacteria (except Francisella tularensis). Two other conserved indels (a 4 aa deletion in RNA polymerase β-subunit and a 1 aa deletion in ribosomal protein L16) were found uniquely in various species of the orders Enterobacteriales, Pasteurellales, Vibrionales, Aeromonadales and Alteromonadales, but were not found in other gammaproteobacteria. Lastly, a 2 aa deletion in leucyl-tRNA synthetase was commonly present in the above orders of the class Gammaproteobacteria and also in some members of the order Oceanospirillales. The presence of the conserved indels in these gammaproteobacterial orders indicates that species from these orders shared a common ancestor that was separate from other bacteria, a suggestion that is supported by phylogenetic studies. Systematic blastp searches were also conducted on various open reading frames (ORFs) in the genome of Escherichia coli K-12. These analyses identified 75 proteins that were unique to most members of the class Gammaproteobacteria or were restricted to species from some of its main orders (Enterobacteriales; Enterobacteriales and Pasteurellales; Enterobacteriales, Pasteurellales, Vibrionales, Aeromonadales and Alteromonadales; and the Enterobacteriales, Pasteurellales, Vibrionales, Aeromonadales, Alteromonadales, Oceanospirillales and Pseudomonadales etc.). The genes for these proteins have evolved at various stages during the evolution of gammaproteobacteria and their species distribution pattern, in conjunction with other results presented here, provide valuable information regarding the evolutionary relationships among these bacteria.
Previously, we have produced a phylogeny of species type strains from the plant-pathogenic genus Xanthomonas based on gyrB sequences. To evaluate this locus further for species and infraspecies identification, we sequenced an additional 203 strains comprising all the pathovar reference strains (which have defined plant hosts), 67 poorly characterized pathovars, currently classified as Xanthomonas campestris, and 59 unidentified xanthomonads. The well-characterized pathovars grouped either in clades containing their respective species type strain or in clades containing species related to Xanthomonas axonopodis. The Xanthomonas euvesicatoria, Xanthomonas perforans and Xanthomonas alfalfae species complex, Xanthomonas fuscans and Xanthomonas citri were discriminated as X. axonopodis-related clades and comprised a large proportion of unidentified strains as well as 80 pathovars representing all the X. axonopodis pathovars and many poorly characterized pathovars, greatly increasing the plant host ranges of the constituent species. Most xanthomonads from these three large clades were isolated from a taxonomically diverse range of plant hosts, including many weed species, from field systems in India, suggesting that these lineages became established and diversified in agricultural areas in this region. The majority of these xanthomonads had minimal sequence diversity, consistent with rapid and highly extensive pathovar diversification that has occurred in relatively recent times. Low-intensity farming practices may have provided conditions conducive to pathovar development, and evidence for pathovar diversification within other regional angiosperm floras is discussed. The gyrB locus was sufficiently discriminating to identify diversity within many species. Seven branches or clades were sufficiently distinct to be considered as potential novel species. This study has provided a comprehensive xanthomonad classification framework and has firmly established gyrB sequencing as a rapid and efficient identification tool.
The species of Clostridium comprise a very heterogeneous assemblage of bacteria that do not form a phylogenetically coherent group. It has been proposed previously that only a subset of the species of Clostridium that form a distinct cluster in the 16S rRNA tree (cluster I) should be regarded as the true representatives of the genus Clostridium (i.e. Clostridium sensu stricto). However, this cluster is presently defined only in phylogenetic terms, and no biochemical, molecular or phenotypic characteristic is known that is unique to species from this cluster. We report here phylogenomic and comparative analyses based on sequenced clostridial genomes in an attempt to bridge this gap and to clarify the evolutionary relationships among species of clostridia. In phylogenetic trees for species of clostridia based on concatenated sequences for 37 highly conserved proteins, the species of Clostridium cluster I formed a strongly supported clade that was separated from all other clostridia by a long branch. Several other Clostridium species that are not part of this cluster grouped reliably with other species of clostridia in a number of well-resolved clades. Our comparative genomic analyses have identified three conserved indels in three highly conserved proteins (a 4 aa insert in DNA gyrase A, a 1 aa deletion in ATP synthase beta subunit and a 1 aa insert in ribosomal protein S2) that are unique to the species of Clostridium cluster I and are not found in any other bacteria. blastp searches on various proteins in the genomes of Clostridium tetani E88 and Clostridium perfringens SM101 have also identified more than 10 proteins that are found uniquely in the cluster I species. These results provide evidence that the species of Clostridium cluster I not only are phylogenetically distinct but also share many unique molecular characteristics. These newly identified molecular markers provide useful tools to define and circumscribe the genus Clostridium sensu stricto in more definitive terms. We have also identified a 7–9 aa conserved insert in the enzyme phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase that is uniquely found in the Clostridium thermocellum, Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus, Thermoanaerobacter tengcogensis and Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus homologues, and is absent from all other bacteria. These species form a well-defined clade in the phylogenetic trees and this indel provides a potential molecular marker for this clostridial cluster.