The total cellular fatty acid contents of 40 recently isolated cyanobacterial symbionts obtained from seven species of host plants were determined by gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy. A total of 63 fatty acids belonging to seven distinct chemical classes were identified. Fatty acid compositions varied among the cyanobacteria depending on the hosts species. Parameters that differed significantly (at the 99% level of probability) included the concentrations of the 16:0 and 18:3 fatty acids, the total concentrations of the polyunsaturated acids, the total concentrations of the 16-carbon and 18-carbon fatty acids, the ratios of unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids, and the total percentages of straight-chain even-carbonnumber fatty acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and branched-chain unsaturated fatty acids. The results of an analysis of variance suggested statistical regression for the total percentages of these fatty acids and chemical classes according to the following linear alignment of cyanobacteria by host: , and (including subsp. and subsp. ). The seven groups could be divided into two distinct clusters on the basis of the results of a dendrogram analysis of Euclidian distances. The symbionts obtained from , and constituted one cluster, and the symbionts obtained from , and constituted a second cluster. A minor dichotomy separated the symbionts from the other members of the first cluster. The clustering of cyanobacterial symbionts based on the results of our fatty acid analysis correlates remarkably well with the taxonomic grouping of the American species. This correlation suggests that the cyanobacterial symbionts of spp. coevolved into distinct genetic groups with their hosts.


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