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Widespread interspecies homologous recombination reveals reticulate evolution within the genus Streptomyces

Cheng, Kun, Rong, Xiaoying, Huang, Ying
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2016 v.102 pp. 246-254
Streptomyces, genes, homologous recombination, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, point mutation, ribosomal RNA, secondary metabolites
Homologous recombination is increasingly being recognized as a driving force in microbial evolution. However, recombination in streptomycetes, a rich source of diverse secondary metabolites, particularly among different species, remains minimally investigated. In this study, the largest sample of Streptomyces species to date, consisting of 142 type strains spanning the genus, with available sequences of 16S rRNA, atpD, gyrB, recA, rpoB and trpB genes, were collected and subjected to a comprehensive population genetic analysis to generate an overall estimate of the level of Streptomyces interspecies genetic exchange and its effect on the evolution of this genus. The results indicate frequent homologous recombination among Streptomyces species, which occurred three times more frequently and was nearly 14 times more important than point mutation in nucleotide sequence divergence (ρ/θw=3.10, r/m=13.74). As a result, a facilitating effect on the evolutionary process and confusion in phylogenetic relationships were observed, as well as a number of specific transfer events of the six gene fragments. A resultant phylogenetic network depicted extensive horizontal genetic exchange which decays clonality in streptomycetes. Moreover, seven evolutionary lineage groups were identified in the present sample in the Structure analysis, generally consistent with morphological and physiological data, and the contribution of recombination was detected to be varied among them. Our analyses demonstrated a reticulate evolution within Streptomyces due to the high level of interspecies gene exchange, which greatly challenges the traditional tree-shaped phylogeny in this genus and may advance our evolutionary understanding of a genuine Streptomyces species.