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Deng J, Auchtung JM, Konstantinidis KT, Brettar I, Höfle MG, Tiedje JM. 2019. Genomic variations underlying speciation and niche specialization of Shewanella baltica. mSystems 4:e00560-19. .1128/mSystems.00560-19.


2019 Deng et al.


Shewanella baltica was the dominant culturable nitrate-reducing bacterium in the eutrophic and strongly stratified Baltic Sea in the 1980s, where it primar- ily inhabited the oxic-anoxic transition zone. The genomic structures of 46 of these isolates were investigated through comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), which revealed a gradient of genomic similarity, ranging from 65% to as high as 99%. The core genome of the S. baltica species was enriched in anaerobic respiration-associated genes. Auxiliary genes, most of which locate within a few genomic islands (GIs), were nonuniformly distributed among the isolates. Specifically, hypothet- ical and mobile genetic element (MGE)-associated genes dominated intraclade gene content differences, whereas gain/loss of functional genes drove gene content dif- ferences among less related strains. Among the major S. baltica clades, gene signa- tures related to specific redox-driven and spatial niches within the water column were identified. For instance, genes involved in anaerobic respiration of sulfur com- pounds may provide key adaptive advantages for clade A strains in anoxic waters where sulfur-containing electron acceptors are present. Genes involved in cell motility, in particular, a secondary flagellar biosynthesis system, may be associated with the free-living lifestyle by clade E strains. Collectively, this study revealed characteristics of genome variations present in the water column and active speciation of S. baltica strains, driven by niche partitioning and horizontal gene transfer (HGT).

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