subsp. and subsp. are closely related phenotypically and genetically. Here we report that certain regions of their chromosomes diverge considerably more than others. Conserved regions differ by less than 20%, whilst variable regions differ by more than 60%. This mosaic structure may have arisen by horizontal gene transfer from distantly related bacteria since in a particular region of the subsp. chromosome the G + C content and the codon bias are not typical for lactococci. Such an exchange, which conserves the function of the gene and cannot be achieved under selective pressure, may be of considerable importance in the evolution of bacteria.


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