Almost complete 23S rRNA gene sequences were obtained from 13 planctomycete strains, the fimbriated, prosthecate bacterium Verrucomicrobium spinosum and two strains of the genus Prosthecobacter. The 23S rRNA genes were amplified by the PCR, using modified primers. The majority of the planctomycete strains investigated were shown to have 23S rRNA genes that were not linked to the 16S rRNA genes. Amplification of the 5'-termini of these genes was achieved using a novel primer-design strategy. Comparative phylogenetic analyses were performed using the 23S rRNA gene sequences determined in this study and previously determined 16S rRNA gene sequences. The phylogenetic dendrograms constructed from both datasets showed that the planctomycetes form a coherent group and distinct lineage within the domain Bacteria. Analysis of 23S rRNA gene sequences of Verrucomicrobium spinosum, Prosthecobacter fusiformis and Prosthecobacter sp. strain FC-2 showed that these organisms cluster together, as was also shown here and previously by analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences. The distinct phylogenetic position of the division Verrucomicrobia was also supported by analysis of the 23S rRNA gene sequences, and no statistically significant phylogenetic relationship between the division Verrucomicrobia and the planctomycetes was found. The analyses presented in this study also provide further evidence that the chlamydiae are no more related to members of the order Planctomycetales and the division Verrucomicrobia than they are to members of other bacterial lineages.


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