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Summary

Members of the Bacteroidetes, formerly known as the Cytophaga-Flavobacteria-Bacteroides (CFB) phylum, are among the major taxa of marine heterotrophic bacterioplankton frequently found on macroscopic organic matter particles (marine snow). In addition, they have been shown to also represent a significant part of free-living microbial assemblages in nutrient-rich microenvironments. Their abundance and distribution pattern in combination with enzymatic activity studies has led to the notion that organisms of this group are specialists for degradation of high molecular weight compounds in both the dissolved and particulate fraction of the marine organic matter pool, implying a major role of Bacteroidetes in the marine carbon cycle. Despite their ecological importance, comprehensive molecular data on organisms of this group have been scarce so far. Here we report on the first whole genome analysis of a marine Bacteroidetes representative, ‘Gramella forsetii’ KT0803. Functional analysis of the predicted proteome disclosed several traits which in joint consideration suggest a clear adaptation of this marine Bacteroidetes representative to the degradation of high molecular weight organic matter, such as a substantial suite of genes encoding hydrolytic enzymes, a predicted preference for polymeric carbon sources and a distinct capability for surface adhesion.