The occurrence of harmful Microcystis blooms is increasing in frequency in a myriad of freshwater ecosystems. Despite considerable research pertaining to the cause and nature of these blooms, the molecular mechanisms behind the cosmopolitan distribution and phenotypic diversity in Microcystis are still unclear. We compared the patterns and extent of DNA methylation in three strains of Microcystis, PCC 7806SL, NIES-2549 and FACHB-1757, using Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing technology. Intact restriction-modification (R-M) systems were identified from the genomes of these strains, and from two previously sequenced strains of Microcystis, NIES-843 and TAIHU98. A large number of methylation motifs and R-M genes were identified in these strains, which differ substantially among different strains. Of the 35 motifs identified, eighteen had not previously been reported. Strain NIES-843 contains a larger number of total putative methyltransferase genes than have been reported previously from any bacterial genome. Genomic comparisons reveal that methyltransferases (some partial) may have been acquired from the environment through horizontal gene transfer.
Keywords: Cyanobacterial bloom; DNA methylation modification; Epigenetics; Methyltransferase; Microcystis; SMRT.
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