Global occurrence and heterogeneity of the Roseobacter-clade species Ruegeria mobilis

Eva Sonnenschein, Kristian Fog Nielsen, Paul D'Alvise, Cisse Hedegaard Porsby, Jette Melchiorsen, Jens Heilmann, Panos G. Kalatzis, Mario López-Pérez, Boyke Bunk, Cathrin Spröer, Mathias Middelboe, Lone Gram

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Tropodithietic acid (TDA)-producing Ruegeria mobilis strains of the Roseobacter clade have primarily been isolated from marine aquaculture and have probiotic potential due to inhibition of fish pathogens. We hypothesized that TDA producers with additional novel features are present in the oceanic environment. We isolated 42 TDA-producing R. mobilis strains during a global marine research cruise. While highly similar on the 16S ribosomal RNA gene level (99–100% identity), the strains separated into four sub-clusters in a multilocus sequence analysis. They were further differentiated to the strain level by average nucleotide identity using pairwise genome comparison. The four sub-clusters could not be associated with a specific environmental niche, however, correlated with the pattern of sub-typing using co-isolated phages, the number of prophages in the genomes and the distribution in ocean provinces. Major genomic differences within the sub-clusters include prophages and toxin-antitoxin systems. In general, the genome of R. mobilis revealed adaptation to a particle-associated life style and querying TARA ocean data confirmed that R. mobilis is more abundant in the particle-associated fraction than in the free-living fraction occurring in 40% and 6% of the samples, respectively. Our data and the TARA data, although lacking sufficient data from the polar regions, demonstrate that R. mobilis is a globally distributed marine bacterial species found primarily in the upper open oceans. It has preserved key phenotypic behaviors such as the production of TDA, but contains diverse sub-clusters, which could provide new capabilities for utilization in aquaculture.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 23 August 2016; doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.111.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe I S M E Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)569–583
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Corrigendum: The ISME Journal (2017) 11, 588; doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.125


  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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