Streptomycetes are a complex group of actinomycetes that produce diverse bioactive metabolites of commercial significance. Systematics can provide a useful framework for identifying species that may produce novel metabolites. However, previously proposed approaches to the systematics of Streptomyces have suffered from either poor interlaboratory comparability or insufficient resolution. In particular, the Streptomyces griseus 16S rRNA gene clade is the most challenging and least defined group within the genus Streptomyces in terms of phylogeny. Here we report the results of a multilocus sequence analysis scheme developed to address the phylogeny of this clade. Sequence fragments of six housekeeping genes, atpD, gyrB, recA, rpoB, trpB and 16S rRNA, were obtained for 53 reference strains that represent 45 valid species and subspecies. Analysis of each individual locus confirmed the suitability of loci and the congruence of single-gene trees for concatenation. Concatenated trees of three, four, five and all six genes were constructed, and the stability of the topology and discriminatory power of each tree were analysed. It can be concluded from the results that phylogenetic analysis based on multilocus sequences is more accurate and robust for species delineation within Streptomyces. A multilocus phylogeny of six genes proved to be optimal for elucidating the interspecies relationships within the S. griseus 16S rRNA gene clade. Our multilocus sequence analysis scheme provides a valuable tool that can be applied to other Streptomyces clades for refining the systematic framework of this genus.
There is a need for easy, practical, reliable and robust techniques for the identification and classification of bacterial isolates to the species level as alternatives to 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and DNA–DNA hybridization. Here, we demonstrate that multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) of housekeeping genes is a valuable alternative technique. An MLSA study of 10 housekeeping genes (atpD, dnaK, gap, glnA, gltA, gyrB, pnp, recA, rpoB and thrC) was performed on 34 representatives of the genus Ensifer. Genetic analysis and comparison with 16S and 23S rRNA gene sequences demonstrated clear species boundaries and a higher discrimination potential for all housekeeping genes. Comparison of housekeeping gene sequence data with DNA–DNA reassociation data revealed good correlation at the intraspecies level, but indicated that housekeeping gene sequencing is superior to DNA–DNA hybridization for the assessment of genetic relatedness between Ensifer species. Our MLSA data, confirmed by DNA–DNA hybridizations, support the suggestion that Ensifer xinjiangensis is a later heterotypic synonym of Ensifer fredii.