Phylogenetic analysis of partial rpoB gene sequences of type and clinical strains belonging to different 16S rRNA gene-fingerprinting ribogroups within 11 species of enterobacteria of the genera Proteus, Morganella and Providencia was performed and allowed the definition of rpoB clades, supported by high bootstrap values and confirmed by ≥2.5 % nucleotide divergence. None of the resulting clades included strains belonging to different species and the majority of the species were confirmed as discrete and homogeneous. However, more than one distinct rpoB clade could be defined among strains belonging to the species Proteus vulgaris (two clades), Providencia alcalifaciens (two clades) and Providencia rettgeri (three clades), suggesting that some strains represent novel species according to the genotypes outlined by rpoB gene sequence analysis. Percentage differences between the rpoB gene sequence of the type strain of Proteus myxofaciens and other members of the same genus (17.3–18.9 %) were similar to those calculated amongst strains of the genus Providencia (16.4–18.7 %), suggesting a genetic distance at the genus-level between Proteus myxofaciens and the rest of the Proteus–Providencia group. Proteus myxofaciens therefore represents a member of a new genus, for which the name Cosenzaea gen. nov., is proposed.
Lateral gene transfer (LGT) is an important mechanism by which micro-organisms acquire new functions. This process has been suggested to be central to prokaryotic evolution in various environments. However, the influence of geographical constraints on the evolution of laterally acquired genes in microbial metabolic evolution is not yet well understood. In this study, the influence of geographical isolation on the evolution of laterally acquired dissimilatory sulphite reductase (dsr) gene sequences in the sulphate-reducing micro-organisms (SRM) was investigated. Sequences on four continental blocks related to SRM known to have received dsr by LGT were analysed using standard phylogenetic and multidimensional statistical methods. Sequences related to lineages with large genetic diversity correlated positively with habitat divergence. Those affiliated to Thermodesulfobacterium indicated strong biogeographical delineation; hydrothermal-vent sequences clustered independently from hot-spring sequences. Some of the hydrothermal-vent and hot-spring sequences suggested to have been acquired from a common ancestral source may have diverged upon isolation within distinct habitats. In contrast, analysis of some Desulfotomaculum sequences indicated they could have been transferred from different ancestral sources but converged upon isolation within the same niche. These results hint that, after lateral acquisition of dsr genes, barriers to gene flow probably play a strong role in their subsequent evolution.