Identification of distinctive molecular traits that are characteristic of the phylum “Deinococcus-Thermus” and distinguish its main constituent groups
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The phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus" contains two heavily researched groups of extremophilic bacteria: the highly radioresistant order Deinococcales and the thermophilic order Thermales. Very few characteristics are known that are uniquely shared by members of the phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus". Comprehensive phylogenetic and comparative analyses of >65 "Deinococcus-Thermus" genomes reported here have identified numerous molecular signatures in the forms of conserved signature insertions/deletions (CSIs) and conserved signature proteins (CSPs), which provide distinguishing characteristics of the phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus" and its main groups. We have identified 58 unique CSIs and 155 unique CSPs that delineate different phylogenetic groups within the phylum. Of these identified traits, 24 CSIs and 29 CSPs are characteristic of the phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus" and they provide novel and reliable means to circumscribe/describe this phylum. An additional 3 CSIs and 3 CSPs are characteristic of the order Deinococcales, and 6 CSIs and 51 CSPs are characteristic of the order Thermales. The remaining 25 CSIs and 72 CSPs identified in this study are distinctive traits of genus level groups within the phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus". The molecular characteristics identified in this work provide novel and independent support for the common ancestry of the members of the phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus" and provide a new means to distinguish the main constituent clades of the phylum. Additionally, the CSIs and CSPs identified in this work may play a role in the unique extremophilic adaptations of the members of this phylum and further functional analyses of these characteristics could provide novel biochemical insights into the unique adaptations found within the phylum "Deinococcus-Thermus".
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