Using sequences from the recA locus, we have produced a phylogeny of 188 Dickeya strains from culture collections and identified species relatedness and subspecies clade structure within the genus. Of the six recognized species, Dickeya paradisiaca, D. chrysanthemi and D. zeae were discriminated with long branch lengths. The clade containing the D. paradisiaca type strain included just one additional strain, isolated from banana in Colombia. Strains isolated from Chrysanthemum and Parthenium species made up most of the clade containing the D. chrysanthemi type strain, and the host range of this species was extended to include potato. The D. zeae clade had the largest number of sequevars and branched into two major sister clades that contained all of the Zea mays isolates, and were identified as phylotypes PI and PII. The host range was increased from six to 13 species, including potato. The recA sequence of an Australian sugar-cane strain was sufficiently distinct to rank as a new species-level branch. In contrast to these species, Dickeya dadantii, D. dianthicola and D. dieffenbachiae were distinguished with shorter branch lengths, indicating relatively closer relatedness. The recA sequence for the type strain of D. dadantii clustered separately from other strains of the species. However, sequence comparison of three additional loci revealed that the D. dadantii type strain grouped together with the six other D. dadantii strains that were sequenced. Analysis of all four loci indicated that the D. dadantii strains were most closely related to D. dieffenbachiae. Three further branches (DUC-1, -2 and -3) were associated with these three species, which all diverged from a common origin and can be considered as a species complex. The large clade containing the D. dianthicola type strain comprised 58 strains and had little sequence diversity. One sequevar accounted for the majority of these strains, which were isolated nearly exclusively from eight hosts from Europe. Isolation of this sequevar on multiple occasions from Dianthus and (more recently) potato demonstrates that this lineage has become established in these species. The D. dadantii clade comprised 11 sequevars, and the known host range of the species was extended from eight to 19 species. New hosts included several ornamental species and potato. The clade DUC-1 was made up exclusively of potato strains originating from Europe, which had identical sequences, whilst DUC-2 strains were isolated mostly from a variety of monocotyledonous species. A single strain from Aglaonema sp. made up DUC-3. A single sequevar constituted the D. dieffenbachiae clade. The phylogenetic method described will provide a simple means for identification to the species and intraspecies level, which will support efforts to control these pathogens based on monitoring and surveillance.
A combination of phylogenomic and signature sequence-based (or phenetic) approaches was used to understand the evolutionary relationships among cyanobacteria. Phylogenetic trees were constructed for 34 cyanobacteria whose genomes have been sequenced, based on concatenated sequences for 45 conserved proteins and also the 16S rRNA gene. In parallel, sequence alignments of various proteins were examined to identify conserved indels (i.e. molecular signatures or synapomorphies) that are specific for either all cyanobacteria or their various clades in the phylogenetic trees. Of the >40 molecular signatures described in this work, 15 are specific for all cyanobacteria. The other cyanobacterial clades that can now be identified and circumscribed in molecular terms by using these signatures include a deep-branching clade (clade A, corresponding to the subclass Gloeobacterophycidae), consisting of Gloeobacter violaceus and two diazotrophic Synechococcus strains (JA-3-3Ab and JA2-3-B′a) (15 aa insert in EF-G); a clade comprising all other cyanobacteria except those from clade A [18 aa insert in DNA polymerase I (Pol I), 2 aa insert in the DnaX protein, 4 aa insert in TrpRS and 4–5 aa insert in tryptophan synthase beta subunit]; a clade (clade C, corresponding to the subclass Synechococcophycidae) of various marine unicellular Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus cyanobacteria (12 aa insert in Pol I, 3 aa insert in RpoB, 2 aa insert in KgsA, 6 aa insert in TyrRS, 2 aa insert in tRNA-mG1 transferase and 1 aa deletion in the RpoC protein); a clade of the low-B/A ecotype Prochlorococcus strains (5 aa deletion in LeuRS and 1 aa insert in the Ffh protein); a clade consisting of the Nostocales species/strains (subclass Nostocophycidae; 4 aa insert in the PetA protein and 5 aa insert in the ribosomal protein S3); a clade of the order Chroococcales (1 aa insert in RecA); a clade comprising the orders Nostocales, Oscillatoriales and Chroococcales [19 aa insert in DnaE, 13 aa insert in GDP–mannose pyrophosphorylase and 22–27 aa insert in NADP(H)–quinone oxidoreductase subunit D]. Two additional conserved indels in the translation-initiation factor IF-2 and riboflavin synthase alpha subunit suggest an intermediate placement of the Oscillatoriales in between the orders Nostocales and Chroococcales. The unique presence of these molecular signatures in all available sequences from the indicated groups of cyanobacteria, but not in any other cyanobacteria (or bacteria), indicates that these synapomorphies provide novel and potentially useful means for circumscription of several important taxonomic clades of cyanobacteria in more definitive terms. The species-distribution patterns of these synapomorphies also indicate that the plant/plastid homologues are not derived from the clade A or C cyanobacteria.
Phytoplasmas, the causal agents of numerous plant diseases, are insect-vector-transmitted, cell-wall-less bacteria descended from ancestral low-G+C-content Gram-positive bacteria in the Bacillus–Clostridium group. Despite their monophyletic origin, widely divergent phytoplasma lineages have evolved in adaptation to specific ecological niches. Classification and taxonomic assignment of phytoplasmas have been based primarily on molecular analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences because of the inaccessibility of measurable phenotypic characters suitable for conventional microbial characterization. In the present study, an interactive online tool, iPhyClassifier, was developed to expand the efficacy and capacity of the current 16S rRNA gene sequence-based phytoplasma classification system. iPhyClassifier performs sequence similarity analysis, simulates laboratory restriction enzyme digestions and subsequent gel electrophoresis and generates virtual restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) profiles. Based on calculated RFLP pattern similarity coefficients and overall sequence similarity scores, iPhyClassifier makes instant suggestions on tentative phytoplasma 16Sr group/subgroup classification status and ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ species assignment. Using iPhyClassifier, we revised and updated the classification of strains affiliated with the peach X-disease phytoplasma group. The online tool can be accessed at http://www.ba.ars.usda.gov/data/mppl/iPhyClassifier.html.