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Complete genome of a new Firmicutes species belonging to the dominant human colonic microbiota (‘Ruminococcus bicirculans’) reveals two chromosomes and a selective capacity to utilize plant glucans



The recently isolated bacterial strain 80/3 represents one of the most abundant 16S rRNA phylotypes detected in the healthy human large intestine and belongs to the Ruminococcaceae family of Firmicutes. The completed genome sequence reported here is the first for a member of this important family of bacteria from the human colon. The genome comprises two large chromosomes of 2.24 and 0.73 Mbp, leading us to propose the name Ruminococcus bicirculans for this new species. Analysis of the carbohydrate active enzyme complement suggests an ability to utilize certain hemicelluloses, especially β-glucans and xyloglucan, for growth that was confirmed experimentally. The enzymatic machinery enabling the degradation of cellulose and xylan by related cellulolytic ruminococci is however lacking in this species. While the genome indicated the capacity to synthesize purines, pyrimidines and all 20 amino acids, only genes for the synthesis of nicotinate, NAD+, NADP+ and coenzyme A were detected among the essential vitamins and co-factors, resulting in multiple growth requirements. In vivo, these growth factors must be supplied from the diet, host or other gut microorganisms. Other features of ecological interest include two type IV pilins, multiple extracytoplasmic function-sigma factors, a urease and a bile salt hydrolase.