Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103(42) , 15611-6 (Oct 17 2006)
Lactic acid-producing bacteria are associated with various plant and animal niches and play a key role in the production of fermented foods and beverages. We report nine genome sequences representing the phylogenetic and functional diversity of these bacteria. The small genomes of lactic acid bacteria encode a broad repertoire of transporters for efficient carbon and nitrogen acquisition from the nutritionally rich environments they inhabit and reflect a limited range of biosynthetic capabilities that indicate both prototrophic and auxotrophic strains. Phylogenetic analyses, comparison of gene content across the group, and reconstruction of ancestral gene sets indicate a combination of extensive gene loss and key gene acquisitions via horizontal gene transfer during the coevolution of lactic acid bacteria with their habitats.