Genetic and phylogenetic evidence for horizontal gene transfer among ecologically disparate groups of marine Vibrio

Maria Hoffmann, Steven R. Monday, Peter J. McCarthy, Jose V. Lopez, Markus Fischer, Eric W. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Vibrio represents a diverse bacterial genus found in different niches of the marine environment, including numerous genera of marine sponges (phylum Porifera), inhabiting different depths and regions of benthic seas, that are potentially important in driving adaptive change among Vibrio spp. Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, a previous study showed that sponge-derived (SD) vibrios clustered with their mainstream counterparts present in shallow, coastal ecosystems, suggesting a genetic relatedness between these populations. Sequences from the topA, ftsZ, mreB, rpoD, rctB and toxR genes were used to investigate the degree of relatedness existing between these two separate populations by examining their phylogenetic and genetic disparity. Phylogenies were constructed from the concatenated sequences of the six housekeeping genes using maximum-parsimony, maximum-likelihood and neighbour-joining algorithms. Genetic recombination was evaluated using the incongruence length difference test, Split decomposition and measuring overall compatibility of sites. This combined technical approach provided evidence that SD Vibrio strains are largely genetically homologous to their shallow-water counterparts. Moreover, the analyses conducted support the existence of extensive horizontal gene transfer between these two groups, supporting the idea of a single panmictic population structure among vibrios from two seemingly distinct, marine environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-64
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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