Genomic analysis of Caldalkalibacillus thermarum TA2.A1 reveals aerobic alkaliphilic metabolism and evolutionary hallmarks linking alkaliphilic bacteria and plant life

Samuel I. de Jong, Marcel A. van den Broek, Alexander Y. Merkel, Pilar de la Torre Cortes, Falk Kalamorz, Gregory M. Cook, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Duncan G.G. McMillan

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Abstract

The aerobic thermoalkaliphile Caldalkalibacillus thermarum strain TA2.A1 is a member of a separate order of alkaliphilic bacteria closely related to the Bacillales order. Efforts to relate the genomic information of this evolutionary ancient organism to environmental adaptation have been thwarted by the inability to construct a complete genome. The existing draft genome is highly fragmented due to repetitive regions, and gaps between and over repetitive regions were unbridgeable. To address this, Oxford Nanopore Technology’s MinION allowed us to span these repeats through long reads, with over 6000-fold coverage. This resulted in a single 3.34 Mb circular chromosome. The profile of transporters and central metabolism gives insight into why the organism prefers glutamate over sucrose as carbon source. We propose that the deamination of glutamate allows alkalization of the immediate environment, an excellent example of how an extremophile modulates environmental conditions to suit its own requirements. Curiously, plant-like hallmark electron transfer enzymes and transporters are found throughout the genome, such as a cytochrome b6c1 complex and a CO2-concentrating transporter. In addition, multiple self-splicing group II intron-encoded proteins closely aligning to those of a telomerase reverse transcriptase in Arabidopsis thaliana were revealed. Collectively, these features suggest an evolutionary relationship to plant life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-935
JournalExtremophiles
Volume24
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Alkaliphiles
  • Evolution
  • Genome
  • Phylogeny

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