Diversity of ammonia monooxygenase operon in autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
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.