International Microbiology, Vol 11, No 3 (2008)

Analysis of 16S rRNA gene mutations in a subset of Aeromonas strains and their impact in species delineation

Anabel Alperi, Maria J. Figueras, Isabel Inza, Antonio J. Martínez-Murcia


Characterization of 999 Aeromonas strains using a published 16S rDNA RFLP identification method showed that 8.1% of the strains produced unexpected (hereafter called "atypical") restriction patterns, making their identification uncertain. Atypical patterns were due to the presence of nucleotide polymorphisms among the rrn operons of the 16S rRNA gene (so-called microheterogeneities). Double sequencing signals at certain positions revealed the nucleotide composition was responsible for the microheterogeneities. Although the number of microheterogeneities was relatively low (0.06-0.66%), trees inferred from the 16S rRNA gene led either to a misidentification or to an inconclusive result for the majority of these strains. Strains with atypical patterns were, however, correctly identified using the rpoD gene sequences, as belonging to Aeromonas caviae, A. veronii, and A. media. All of them, but particularly the two former species, are associated with human disease. Microheterogeneities in 16S rRNA gene sequence were significantly (P 0.01) more prevalent in clinical than in environmental strains. This work also analyzed the effects of these microheterogeneities on the taxonomic position of the investigated strains. The results suggest the need for recording microheterogeneities in the 16S rRNA gene.

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