Seven GC-rich microbial genomes adopt similar codon usage patterns regardless of their phylogenetic lineages

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Jun 20;306(1):310-7. doi: 10.1016/s0006-291x(03)00973-2.


Seven GC-rich (group I) and three AT-rich (group II) microbial genomes are analyzed in this paper. The seven microbes in group I belong to different phylogenetic lineages, even different domains of life. The common feature is that they are highly GC-rich organisms, with more than 60% genomic GC content. Group II includes three bacteria, which belong to the same subdivision as Pseudomonas aeruginosa in group I. The genomic GC content of the three bacteria is in the range of 26-50%. It is shown that although the phylogenetic lineages of the organisms in group I are remote, the common feature of highly genomic GC content forces them to adopt similar codon usage patterns, which constitutes the basis of an algorithm using a set of universal parameters to recognize known genes in the seven genomes. The common codon usage pattern of function known genes in the seven genomes is GGS type, where G, G, and S are the bases of G, non-G, and G/C, respectively. On the contrary, although the phylogenetic lineages of the three bacteria in group II are quite close, the codon usage patterns of function known genes in these genomes are obviously distinct. There are no universal parameters to identify known genes in the three genomes in group II. It can be deduced that the genomic GC content is more important than phylogenetic lineage in gene recognition programs. We hope that the work might be useful for understanding the common characteristics in the organization of microbial genomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bacteria / chemistry
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Base Composition
  • Codon / genetics*
  • DNA, Archaeal / chemistry*
  • DNA, Archaeal / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genetics, Microbial
  • Genome, Archaeal*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Halobacterium / chemistry
  • Halobacterium / classification
  • Halobacterium / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Species Specificity


  • Codon
  • DNA, Archaeal
  • DNA, Bacterial