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Journal Article

Current view on phytoplasma genomes and encoded metabolism


Kube,  M.
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;


Rabus,  R.
Department of Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Kube, M., Mitrovic, J., Duduk, B., Rabus, R., & Seemueller, E. (2012). Current view on phytoplasma genomes and encoded metabolism. The ScientificWorld journal, 1-25.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C8C3-1
Phytoplasmas are specialised bacteria that are obligate parasites of plant phloem tissue and insects. These bacteria have resisted all attempts of cell-free cultivation. Genome research is of particular importance to analyse the genetic endowment of such bacteria. Here we review the gene content of the four completely sequenced ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ genomes that include those of ‘Ca. P. asteris’ strains OY-M and AY-WB, ‘Ca. P. australiense,’ and ‘Ca. P. mali’. These genomes are characterized by chromosome condensation resulting in sizes below 900 kb and a G + C content of less than 28%. Evolutionary adaption of the phytoplasmas to nutrient-rich environments resulted in losses of genetic modules and increased host dependency highlighted by the transport systems and limited metabolic repertoire. On the other hand, duplication and integration events enlarged the chromosomes and contribute to genome instability. Present differences in the content of membrane and secreted proteins reflect the host adaptation in the phytoplasma strains. General differences are obvious between different phylogenetic subgroups. ‘Ca. P. mali’ is separated from the other strains by its deviating chromosome organization, the genetic repertoire for recombination and excision repair of nucleotides or the loss of the complete energy-yielding part of the glycolysis. Apart from these differences, comparative analysis exemplified that all four phytoplasmas are likely to encode an alternative pathway to generate pyruvate and ATP.