CRISPR-Cas systems in the marine actinomycete Salinispora: linkages with phage defense, microdiversity and biogeography

TitleCRISPR-Cas systems in the marine actinomycete Salinispora: linkages with phage defense, microdiversity and biogeography
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsWietz M., Millan-Aguinaga N., Jensen PR
JournalBmc Genomics
Date Published2014/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1471-2164
Accession NumberWOS:000344888000001
Keywordsbacteria; CRISPR-Cas; diversity; evolution; genetic elements; genomes; immune-systems; immunity; Mobile genetic elements; Prophages; provide insights; resistance; Salinispora; search tool; short palindromic repeats

Background: Prokaryotic CRISPR-Cas systems confer resistance to viral infection and thus mediate bacteria-phage interactions. However, the distribution and functional diversity of CRISPRs among environmental bacteria remains largely unknown. Here, comparative genomics of 75 Salinispora strains provided insight into the diversity and distribution of CRISPR-Cas systems in a cosmopolitan marine actinomycete genus. Results: CRISPRs were found in all Salinispora strains, with the majority containing multiple loci and different Cas array subtypes. Of the six subtypes identified, three have not been previously described. A lower prophage frequency in S. arenicola was associated with a higher fraction of spacers matching Salinispora prophages compared to S. tropica, suggesting differing defensive capacities between Salinispora species. The occurrence of related prophages in strains from distant locations, as well as spacers matching those prophages inserted throughout spacer arrays, indicate recurring encounters with widely distributed phages over time. Linkages of CRISPR features with Salinispora microdiversity pointed to subclade-specific contacts with mobile genetic elements (MGEs). This included lineage-specific spacer deletions or insertions, which may reflect weak selective pressures to maintain immunity or distinct temporal interactions with MGEs, respectively. Biogeographic patterns in spacer and prophage distributions support the concept that Salinispora spp. encounter localized MGEs. Moreover, the presence of spacers matching housekeeping genes suggests that CRISPRs may have functions outside of viral defense. Conclusions: This study provides a comprehensive examination of CRISPR-Cas systems in a broadly distributed group of environmental bacteria. The ubiquity and diversity of CRISPRs in Salinispora suggests that CRISPR-mediated interactions with MGEs represent a major force in the ecology and evolution of this cosmopolitan marine actinomycete genus.

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