Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 96(2) , 193-204 (Aug 2009)
The self-transmissible, broad-host-range (BHR) plasmid pMOL98 was previously isolated from polluted soil using a triparental plasmid capture approach and shown to possess a replicon similar to that of the BHR plasmids pSB102 and pIPO2. Here, complete sequence analysis and comparative genomics reveal that the 55.5 kb nucleotide sequence of pMOL98 shows extensive sequence similarity and synteny with the BHR plasmid family that now includes pIPO2, pSB102, pTER331, and pMRAD02. They share a plasmid backbone comprising replication, partitioning and conjugative transfer functions. Comparison of the variable accessory regions of these plasmids shows that the majority of natural transposons, as well as the mini-transposon used to mark the plasmids, are inserted in the parA locus. The transposon unique to pMOL98 appears to have inserted from the chromosome of the recipient strain used in the plasmid capture procedure. This demonstrates the necessity for careful screening of plasmids and host chromosomes to avoid mis-interpretation of plasmid genome content. The presence of very similar BHR plasmids with different accessory genes in geographically distinct locations suggests an important role in horizontal gene exchange and bacterial adaptation for this recently defined plasmid group, which we propose to name “PromA”.