Genomic islands and the ecology and evolution of Prochlorococcus

Maureen L. Coleman, Matthew B. Sullivan, Adam C. Martiny, Claudia Steglich, Kerrie Barry, Edward F. DeLong, Sallie W. Chisholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

324 Scopus citations


Prochlorococcus ecotypes are a useful system for exploring the origin and function of diversity among closely related microbes. The genetic variability between phenotypically distinct strains that differ by less that 1% in 165 ribosomal RNA sequences occurs mostly in genomic islands. Island genes appear to have been acquired in part by phage-mediated lateral gene transfer, and some are differentially expressed under light and nutrient stress. Furthermore, genome fragments directly recovered from ocean ecosystems indicate that these islands are variable among co-occurring Prochlorococcus cells. Genomic islands in this free-living photoautotroph share features with pathogenicity islands of parasitic bacteria, suggesting a general mechanism for niche differentiation in microbial species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1768-1770
Number of pages3
Issue number5768
StatePublished - Mar 24 2006

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    Coleman, M. L., Sullivan, M. B., Martiny, A. C., Steglich, C., Barry, K., DeLong, E. F., & Chisholm, S. W. (2006). Genomic islands and the ecology and evolution of Prochlorococcus. Science, 311(5768), 1768-1770.