Horizontal Transfer of the Photosynthesis Gene Cluster and Operon Rearrangement in Purple Bacteria
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A 37-kb photosynthesis gene cluster was sequenced in a photosynthetic bacterium belonging to the β subclass of purple bacteria (Proteobacteria), Rubrivivax gelatinosus. The cluster contained 12 bacteriochlorophyll biosynthesis genes (bch), 7 carotenoid biosynthesis genes (crt), structural genes for photosynthetic apparatuses (puf and puh), and some other related genes. The gene arrangement was markedly different from those of other purple photosynthetic bacteria, while two superoperonal structures, crtEF–bchCXYZ–puf and bchFNBHLM–lhaA–puhA, were conserved. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of these photosynthesis genes showed that the photosynthesis gene cluster of Rvi. gelatinosus was originated from those of the species belonging to the α subclass of purple bacteria. It was concluded that a horizontal transfer of the photosynthesis gene cluster from an ancestral species belonging to the α subclass to that of the β subclass of purple bacteria had occurred and was followed by rearrangements of the operons in this cluster.
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