Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), which orient along the earth's magnetic field using magnetosomes, are ubiquitous and abundant in marine and freshwater environments. Previous phylogenetic analysis of diverse MTB has been limited to few cultured species and the most abundant and conspicuous members of natural populations, which were assigned to various lineages of the Proteobacteria, the Nitrospirae phylum as well as the candidate division OP3. However, their known phylogenetic diversity still not matches the large morphological and ultrastructural variability of uncultured MTB found in environmental communities. Here, we used analysis of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries in combination with microsorting and whole-genome amplification to systematically address the entire diversity of uncultured MTB from two different habitats. This approach revealed extensive and novel diversity of MTB within the freshwater and marine sediment samples. In total, single-cell analysis identified eight different phylotypes, which were only partly represented in the clone libraries, and which could be unambiguously assigned to their respective morphotypes. Identified MTB belonged to the Alphaproteobacteria (seven species) and the Nitrospirae phylum (two species). End-sequencing of a small insert library created from WGA-derived DNA of a novel conspicuous magnetotactic vibrio identified genes with highest similarity to two cultivated MTB as well as to other phylogenetic groups. In conclusion, the combination of metagenomic cloning and single cell sorting represents a powerful approach to recover maximum bacterial diversity including low-abundant magnetotactic phylotypes from environmental samples and also provides access to genomic analysis of uncultivated MTB.
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