Bifidobacteria are important members of the human gastrointestinal tract that promote the establishment of a healthy microbial consortium in the gut of infants. Recent studies have established that the Bifidobacterium genus is a polymorphic phylogenetic clade, which encompasses a diversity of species and subspecies that encode a broad range of proteins implicated in complex and non-digestible carbohydrate uptake and catabolism, ranging from human breast milk oligosaccharides, to plant fibers. Recent genomic studies have created a need to properly place Bifidobacterium species in a phylogenetic tree. Current approaches, based on core-genome analyses come at the cost of intensive sequencing and demanding analytical processes. Here, we propose a typing method based on sequences of glycolysis genes and the proteins they encode, to provide insights into diversity, typing, and phylogeny in this complex and broad genus. We show that glycolysis genes occur broadly in these genomes, to encode the machinery necessary for the biochemical spine of the cell, and provide a robust phylogenetic marker. Furthermore, glycolytic sequences-based trees are congruent with both the classical 16S rRNA phylogeny, and core genome-based strain clustering. Furthermore, these glycolysis markers can also be used to provide insights into the adaptive evolution of this genus, especially with regards to trends toward a high GC content. This streamlined method may open new avenues for phylogenetic studies on a broad scale, given the widespread occurrence of the glycolysis pathway in bacteria, and the diversity of the sequences they encode.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)