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Abstract

Linear plasmids are extrachromosomal DNA elements that have been found in a small number of bacterial species. To date, the only linear plasmids described in the family belong to , first found in Typhi. Here, we describe a collection of 12 isolates of the species complex in which we identified linear plasmids. Screening of assembly graphs assembled from public read sets identified linear plasmid structures in a further 13 . species complex genomes. We used these 25 linear plasmid sequences to query all bacterial genome assemblies in the National Center for Biotechnology Information database, and discovered an additional 61 linear plasmid sequences in a variety of species. Gene content analysis divided these plasmids into five distinct phylogroups, with very few genes shared across more than two phylogroups. The majority of linear plasmid-encoded genes are of unknown function; however, each phylogroup carried its own unique toxin–antitoxin system and genes with homology to those encoding the ParAB plasmid stability system. Passage of the 12 linear plasmid-carrying isolates in our collection (which include representatives of all five phylogroups) indicated that these linear plasmids can be stably maintained, and our data suggest they can transmit between strains (including members of globally disseminated multidrug-resistant clones) and also between diverse species. The linear plasmid sequences, and representative isolates harbouring them, are made available as a resource to facilitate future studies on the evolution and function of these novel plasmids.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Award OPP1175797)
    • Principle Award Recipient: KathrynE Holt
  • Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation (Award Senior Medical Research Fellowship)
    • Principle Award Recipient: KathrynE Holt
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2022-04-13
2022-07-06
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