Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Bacteriology 144:2 (November 1980), pp. 560-568.


Copyright © 1980 American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


A group of Escherichia coli isolates from nature were compared with one another and with laboratory strains of E. coli with respect to size distribution of chromosomal restriction endonuclease fragments and differences in nucleotide sequences in selected small portions of the genomes. The estimated frequency of base substitutions in nucleotide sequences in and near the trp operons of 26 of the 28 E. coli strains examined ranged from 0.008 to 0.066. Nucleotide sequences in or near λ prophage homologs were significantly more variable than the sequences in or near trp, tnaA, and thyA genes. Thus, the λ-homologous regions may have a significant horizontal component in their evolutionary histories, having undergone genetic exchange, whereas the trp, tnaA, and thyA regions may have solely vertical evolutionary histories. The relatedness of the E. coli strains in the genetic regions studied indicated that laboratory strains are not more closely related to one other than they are to isolates from nature. The isolates from natural populations did not form groups related either by host taxa or by geographical region of isolation.