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A global network of coexisting microbes from environmental and whole-genome sequence data


Chaffron, S; Rehrauer, H; Pernthaler, J; von Mering, C (2010). A global network of coexisting microbes from environmental and whole-genome sequence data. Genome Research, 20(7):947-959.

Abstract

Microbes are the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth. In contrast to macroscopic organisms, their environmental preferences and ecological interdependencies remain difficult to assess, requiring laborious molecular surveys at diverse sampling sites. Here, we present a global meta-analysis of previously sampled microbial lineages in the environment. We grouped publicly available 16S ribosomal RNA sequences into operational taxonomic units at various levels of resolution and systematically searched these for co-occurrence across environments. Naturally occurring microbes, indeed, exhibited numerous, significant interlineage associations. These ranged from relatively specific groupings encompassing only a few lineages, to larger assemblages of microbes with shared habitat preferences. Many of the coexisting lineages were phylogenetically closely related, but a significant number of distant associations were observed as well. The increased availability of completely sequenced genomes allowed us, for the first time, to search for genomic correlates of such ecological associations. Genomes from coexisting microbes tended to be more similar than expected by chance, both with respect to pathway content and genome size, and outliers from these trends are discussed. We hypothesize that groupings of lineages are often ancient, and that they may have significantly impacted on genome evolution.

Abstract

Microbes are the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth. In contrast to macroscopic organisms, their environmental preferences and ecological interdependencies remain difficult to assess, requiring laborious molecular surveys at diverse sampling sites. Here, we present a global meta-analysis of previously sampled microbial lineages in the environment. We grouped publicly available 16S ribosomal RNA sequences into operational taxonomic units at various levels of resolution and systematically searched these for co-occurrence across environments. Naturally occurring microbes, indeed, exhibited numerous, significant interlineage associations. These ranged from relatively specific groupings encompassing only a few lineages, to larger assemblages of microbes with shared habitat preferences. Many of the coexisting lineages were phylogenetically closely related, but a significant number of distant associations were observed as well. The increased availability of completely sequenced genomes allowed us, for the first time, to search for genomic correlates of such ecological associations. Genomes from coexisting microbes tended to be more similar than expected by chance, both with respect to pathway content and genome size, and outliers from these trends are discussed. We hypothesize that groupings of lineages are often ancient, and that they may have significantly impacted on genome evolution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Functional Genomics Center Zurich
08 University Research Priority Programs > Systems Biology / Functional Genomics
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:14 Jul 2010 06:27
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:11
Publisher:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
ISSN:1088-9051
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/gr.104521.109
PubMed ID:20458099

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