Many cyanobacteria commonly identified as belonging to the genus Nostoc are well-known cyanobionts (symbionts) of a wide variety of plants and fungi. They form symbioses with bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms that are considerably different in the type of reciprocal interaction between the host and the cyanobiont. The phylogenetic and taxonomic relationships among cyanobionts isolated from different hosts and Nostoc strains isolated from free-living conditions are still not well understood. We compared phylogeny and morphology of symbiotic cyanobacteria originating from different host plants (genera Gunnera, Azolla, Cycas, Dioon, Encephalartos, Macrozamia and Anthoceros) with free-living Nostoc isolates originating from different habitats. After preliminary clustering with ARDRA (amplified rDNA restriction analysis), phylogeny was reconstructed on the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and compared with morphological characterization, obtaining several supported clusters. Two main Nostoc clusters harboured almost all cyanobionts of Gunnera, Anthoceros and of several cycads, together with free-living strains of the species Nostoc muscorum, Nostoc calcicola, Nostoc edaphicum, Nostoc ellipsosporum and strains related to Nostoc commune. We suggest that the frequent occurrence of symbiotic strains within these clusters is explained by the intensive hormogonia production that was observed in many of the strains studied. However, no evidence for discrimination between symbiotic and free-living strains, either by molecular or morphological approaches, could be found. Sequences of Azolla cyanobiont filaments, taken directly from leaf cavities, clustered tightly with sequences from the planktic cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, from the benthic Anabaena cylindrica 133 and from Anabaena oscillarioides HINDAK 1984/43, with high bootstrap values. The phylogenetic analysis showed that two distinct patterns of evolution of symbiotic behaviour might exist for the nostocacean cyanobacteria, one leading to symbioses of Nostoc species with a wide variety of plants, the other leading to the association of a unique cyanobacterial type with the water fern Azolla.
Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio mimicus have similar phenotypes and genomes making rapid differentiation of these two species difficult. The first standard multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) scheme for the identification of these species is described. A collection of 45 representative isolates from different geographical regions and hosts was examined using segments of the housekeeping genes pyrH, recA and rpoA. Overall, the closest phylogenetic neighbours of these species were Vibrio furnissii and Vibrio fluvialis. V. cholerae and V. mimicus formed separate species clusters on the basis of each gene, suggesting that these genes are useful as identification markers. These species clusters arose by the accumulation of point mutations. The pyrH gene showed the highest resolution for differentiating V. cholerae and V. mimicus. The maximum interspecies pyrH gene sequence similarity was 91 %. Clearly, V. mimicus strains were more heterogeneous than V. cholerae strains at the three loci. It is suggested that vibrio species may be defined on the basis of MLSA data. A vibrio species was defined as a group of strains forming a monophyletic group on the basis of these loci and with an intraspecific sequence similarity of at least 95 %. V. cholerae and V. mimicus isolates can be readily identified through the open database resource ‘The Taxonomy of Vibrios’ (http://www.taxvibrio.lncc.br/).
Many nanoflagellate morphospecies comprise an enormous variation of genotypes, probably indicating cryptic species. One of the best-investigated morphospecies with respect to molecular and ecophysiological variation are flagellates of the Spumella morphotype. Here, we have phylogenetically analysed three protein-coding genes (actin, alpha-tubulin, beta-tubulin), internal transcribed spacers (ITS1, ITS2) and the 5.8S rDNA of 17 Spumella-like strains isolated from soil, freshwater and marine samples in order to (i) test the validity of the current Spumella-like phylogenetic classification system based exclusively on small subunit (SSU) rDNA, (ii) elucidate the phylogenetic associations of SSU rDNA-unresolved strains and (iii) evaluate the validity of the assignment of ecophysiological adaptations to previously identified SSU rDNA sequence clades. All single-gene analyses show different patterns of support, are incongruent and identify a number of conflicting nodes. Likewise, a concatenation of all protein genes fails to recover specific SSU rDNA clades. However, a combined analysis of all genes confidently resolved the conflicts of the single genes and the protein-gene concatenations and resulted in a tree topology that is identical to the SSU rDNA analysis, but with enhanced phylogenetic resolution and decisively greater support. We conclude that, depending on the genes concatenated, a ‘supergene’ analysis minimizes artefactual effects of single genes and may be superior in its performance in phylogenetically analysing cryptic species. We confirm the validity of the SSU rDNA Spumella-like phyloclades and support the suggestion that these clades indeed seem to reflect certain ecophysiological adaptations.