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Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 194, Issue 1, pp 3–11 | Cite as

Phylogenetic perspectives of nitrogen-fixing actinobacteria

  • Maher GtariEmail author
  • Faten Ghodhbane-Gtari
  • Imen Nouioui
  • Nicholas Beauchemin
  • Louis S. Tisa
Mini-Review

Abstract

It was assumed for a long time that the ability to catalyze atmospheric nitrogen (diazotrophy) has a narrow distribution among actinobacteria being limited to the genus Frankia. Recently, the number of nitrogen fixation (nifH) genes identified in other non-Frankia actinobacteria has dramatically increased and has opened investigation on the origin and emergence of diazotrophy among actinobacteria. During the last decade, Mycobacterium flavum, Corynebacterium autotrophicum and a fluorescent Arthrobacter sp. have been reported to have nitrogenase activity, but these studies have not been further verified. Additional reports of nitrogen fixation by Agromyces, Microbacterium, Corynebacterium and Micromonospora isolated from root nodules of leguminous and actinorhizal plants have increased. For several actinobacteria, nitrogen fixation was demonstrated by the ability to grow on nitrogen-free medium, acetylene reduction activity, 15N isotope dilution analysis and identification of a nifH gene via PCR amplification. Moreover, the analyses of draft genome sequences of actinobacteria including Slackia exigua, Rothia mucilaginosa and Gordonibacter pamelaeae have also revealed the presence of nifH-like sequences. Whether these nifH sequences are associated with effective nitrogen fixation in these actinobacteria taxa has not yet been demonstrated. These genes may be vertically or horizontally transferred and be silent sequences. These ideas merit further investigation. This minireview presents a phylogenetic comparison of nitrogen fixation gene (nifH) with the aim of elucidating the processes underlying the evolutionary history of this catalytic ability among actinobacteria.

Keywords

Actinobacteria Diazotrophy Phylogeny 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the Tunisian Ministry of High Education and Research (MG, FGG and IN). LST and NB were supported in part by NH530 and the College of Life Science and Agriculture, the University of New Hampshire.

Supplementary material

203_2011_733_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (9 kb)
Supplemental Figure 1. Concatenated phylogenetic affiliation of 110 different maximum parsimony trees for amino acid sequences of orthologs among all the genomes. The values at each branch point are the percent number of parsimony trees that displayed the same phylogeny. For each ortholog set, Clustal W (Larkin 2007) was used to align the sequences and a maximum parsimony tree was created using PHYLIP (Felsenstein 1989). (PDF 9 kb)
203_2011_733_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (9 kb)
Supplemental Figure 2. Phylogenetic affiliation of nifH amino acid sequences retrieved from Frankia and non-Frankia genomes used in Supplemental Figure 1. nifH sequences were aligned using Clustal W (Larkin et al., 2007). Maximum parsimony tree was constructed using MEGA version 5 with a 500 Bootstrap test (Tamura et al., 2011). (PDF 9 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maher Gtari
    • 1
  • Faten Ghodhbane-Gtari
    • 1
  • Imen Nouioui
    • 1
  • Nicholas Beauchemin
    • 2
  • Louis S. Tisa
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire Microorganismes and Biomolécules ActivesUniversité de Tunis El Manar (FST) et Université de Carthage (ISSTE)TunisTunisia
  2. 2.Department of Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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