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Exploring the Evolutionary Dynamics of Rhizobium Plasmids through Bipartite Network Analysis

Xiangchen Li, Hao Wang , Wenjun Tong, Li Feng, Lina Wang, Siddiq Ur. Rahman, Gehong Wei, Shiheng Tao.

Environ Microbiol.

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14762

 

 

Abstract: The genus Rhizobium usually has a multipartite genome architecture with a chromosome and several plasmids, making these bacteria a perfect candidate for plasmid biology studies. As there are no universally shared genes among typical plasmids, network analyses can complement traditional phylogenetics in a broad-scale study of plasmid evolution. Here, we present an exhaustive analysis of 216 plasmids from 49 complete genomes of Rhizobium by constructing a bipartite network that consists of two classes of nodes, the plasmids and homologous protein families that connect them. Dissection of the network using a hierarchical clustering strategy reveals extensive variety, with 34 homologous plasmid clusters. Four large clusters including one cluster of symbiotic plasmids and two clusters of chromids carrying some truly essential genes are widely distributed among Rhizobium. In contrast, the other clusters are quite small and rare. Symbiotic clusters and rare accessory clusters are exogenetic and do not appear to have co-evolved with the common accessory clusters; the latter ones have a large coding potential and functional complementarity for different lifestyles in Rhizobium. The bipartite network also provides preliminary evidence of Rhizobium plasmid variation and formation including genetic exchange, plasmid fusion and fission, exogenetic plasmid transfer, host plant selection, and environmental adaptation.