A primary-structure analysis of the 16S rRNA gene was performed with 10 strains representing five described and one unidentified species of the genus . The phylogenies determined illustrate the evolutionary affiliations among strains, other cyanobacteria, and related plastids and bacteria. A cluster of 10 strains that included hepatotoxic isolates identified as formed a monophyletic group. However, the genus appeared to be polyphyletic and contained two strains that clustered with unicellular cyanobacteria belonging to the genus . The clustering of related strains, including strains involved in the production of the cyclic peptide toxin microcystin, was consistent with cell morphology, gas vacuolation, and the low G+C contents of the genomes. The lineage was also distinct from the lineage containing the unicellular genus and the filamentous, heterocyst-forming genus . The secondary structure of a 16S rRNA molecule was determined, and genus-specific sequence signatures were used to design primers that permitted identification of the potentially toxic cyanobacteria belonging to the genus via DNA amplification.


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