Multiple copies of ammonia monooxygenase (amo) operons have evolved under biased AT/GC mutational pressure in ammonia-oxidizing autotrophic bacteria

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1998 Nov 15;168(2):303-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1998.tb13288.x.


The recent availability of complete sequences of ammonia monooxygenase (16 amoA, 5 amoB and 5 amoC gene sequences) and particulate methane monooxygenase (2 pmoA, pmoB and pmoC gene sequences each) genes allowed for a detailed analysis of their relatedness. Nucleotide sequence analysis was performed in order to identify the origins of the nearly identical operon copies within a given nitrosofier/methanotroph strain. Our data suggest that amo-homologous gene evolution has occurred in individual strains (orthology) under biased AT/GC pressure rather than by horizontal transfer. The multiple operon copies within individual strains are the result of operon duplication (paralogy). While the near identity of the multiple operon copies makes it impossible to determine whether paralogous gene expansion occurred in the last common ancestor of ammonia oxidizers or after speciation took place, we conclude that the duplication events were not recent events. We propose that the elimination of third basepair degeneracy between copies within one organism is implemented by a rectification mechanism resulting in concerted evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • Codon / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Gram-Negative Chemolithotrophic Bacteria / enzymology
  • Gram-Negative Chemolithotrophic Bacteria / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Operon / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Codon
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Oxidoreductases
  • ammonia monooxygenase