PLoS One 9(7) , e102458 (Jul 24 2014)
We describe five novel Methylophilaceae ecotypes from a single ecological niche in Lake Washington, USA, and compare them to three previously described ecotypes, in terms of their phenotype and genome sequence divergence. Two of the ecotypes appear to represent novel genera within the Methylophilaceae. Genome-based metabolic reconstruction highlights metabolic versatility of Methylophilaceae with respect to methylotrophy and nitrogen metabolism, different ecotypes possessing different combinations of primary substrate oxidation systems (MxaFI-type methanol dehydrogenase versus XoxF-type methanol dehydrogenase; methylamine dehydrogenase versus N-methylglutamate pathway) and different potentials for denitrification (assimilatory versus respiratory nitrate reduction). By comparing pairs of closely related genomes, we uncover that site-specific recombination is the main means of genomic evolution and strain divergence, including lateral transfers of genes from both closely- and distantly related taxa. The new ecotypes and the new genomes contribute significantly to our understanding of the extent of genomic and metabolic diversity among organisms of the same family inhabiting the same ecological niche. These organisms also provide novel experimental models for studying the complexity and the function of the microbial communities active in methylotrophy.