Phylogenetic relationships of lactic acid bacteria
Prokaryotes possess a simple morphology, reveal no ontogeny and lack in general fossil records. Therefore, phylogenetic relationships can only be deduced by comparative sequence analyses of conserved, homologous and ubiquitously distributed macromolecules. The current knowledge on the phylogenetic relatedness of bacteria is mainly based upon comparative sequence analysis of 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (16S rRNA; Woese, 1987). Based on these data bacteria can be divided into at least 12 major lines of descent, so-called phyla (Figure 2.1). Comparative sequence analyses of other conserved macromolecules such as 23S rRNA, elongation factor Tu or β-subunit of ATPase support the 16S rRNA data (Schleifer and Ludwig, 1989; Ludwig et al., 1993).
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