Being Aquifex aeolicus: Untangling a hyperthermophile's Checkered Past
MetadataShow full item record
Lateral gene transfer (LGT) is an important factor contributing to the evolution of prokaryotic genomes. The Aquificae are a hyperthermophilic bacterial group whose genes show affiliations to many other lineages, including the hyperthermophilic Thermotogae, the Proteobacteria, and the Archaea. Here I outline these scenarios and consider the fit of the available data, including two recently sequenced genomes from members of the Aquificae, to different sets of predictions. Evidence from phylogenetic profiles and trees suggests that the ?-Proteobacteria have the strongest affinities with the three Aquificae analyzed. However, this phylogenetic signal is by no means the dominant one, with the Archaea, many lineages of thermophilic bacteria, and members of genus Clostridium and class ?-Proteobacteria also showing strong connections to the Aquificae. The phylogenetic affiliations of different functional subsystems showed strong biases: as observed previously, most but not all genes implicated in the core translational apparatus tended to group Aquificae with Thermotogae, while a wide range of metabolic systems strongly supported the Aquificae - ?-Proteobacteria link. Given the breadth of support for this latter relationship, a scenario of ?-proteobacterial ancestry coupled with frequent exchange among thermophilic lineages is a plausible explanation for the emergence of the Aquificae.