Comparative and genetic analysis of the four sequenced Paenibacillus polymyxa genomes reveals a diverse metabolism and conservation of genes relevant to plant-growth promotion and competitiveness
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BACKGROUND: Members of the genus Paenibacillus are important plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria that can serve as bio-reactors. Paenibacillus polymyxa promotes the growth of a variety of economically important crops. Our lab recently completed the genome sequence of Paenibacillus polymyxa CR1. As of January 2014, four P. polymyxa genomes have been completely sequenced but no comparative genomic analyses have been reported. RESULTS: Here we report the comparative and genetic analyses of four sequenced P. polymyxa genomes, which revealed a significantly conserved core genome. Complex metabolic pathways and regulatory networks were highly conserved and allow P. polymyxa to rapidly respond to dynamic environmental cues. Genes responsible for phytohormone synthesis, phosphate solubilization, iron acquisition, transcriptional regulation, σ-factors, stress responses, transporters and biomass degradation were well conserved, indicating an intimate association with plant hosts and the rhizosphere niche. In addition, genes responsible for antimicrobial resistance and non-ribosomal peptide/polyketide synthesis are present in both the core and accessory genome of each strain. Comparative analyses also reveal variations in the accessory genome, including large plasmids present in strains M1 and SC2. Furthermore, a considerable number of strain-specific genes and genomic islands are irregularly distributed throughout each genome. Although a variety of plant-growth promoting traits are encoded by all strains, only P. polymyxa CR1 encodes the unique nitrogen fixation cluster found in other Paenibacillus sp. CONCLUSIONS: Our study revealed that genomic loci relevant to host interaction and ecological fitness are highly conserved within the P. polymyxa genomes analysed, despite variations in the accessory genome. This work suggets that plant-growth promotion by P. polymyxa is mediated largely through phytohormone production, increased nutrient availability and bio-control mechanisms. This study provides an in-depth understanding of the genome architecture of this species, thus facilitating future genetic engineering and applications in agriculture, industry and medicine. Furthermore, this study highlights the current gap in our understanding of complex plant biomass metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria.
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