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Applied and environmental microbiology DOI:10.1128/AEM.01412-07

Conservation of the chitin utilization pathway in the Vibrionaceae.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHunt, DE, Gevers, D, Vahora, NM, Polz, MF
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Date Published2008/01/01

Vibrionaceae are regarded as important marine chitin degraders, and attachment to chitin regulates important biological functions; yet, the degree of chitin pathway conservation in Vibrionaceae is unknown. Here, a core chitin degradation pathway is proposed based on comparison of 19 Vibrio and Photobacterium genomes with a detailed metabolic map assembled for V. cholerae from published biochemical, genomic, and transcriptomic results. Further, to assess whether chitin degradation is a conserved property of Vibrionaceae, a set of 54 strains from 32 taxa were tested for the ability to grow on various forms of chitin. All strains grew on N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), the monomer of chitin. The majority of isolates grew on alpha (crab shell) and beta (squid pen) chitin and contained chitinase A (chiA) genes. chiA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis suggest that this gene is a good indicator of chitin metabolism but appears subject to horizontal gene transfer and duplication. Overall, chitin metabolism appears to be a core function of Vibrionaceae, but individual pathway components exhibit dynamic evolutionary histories.