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Summary

The genetic and evolutionary relationship among 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (Phl)-producing pseudomonads that protect plants from soil-borne pathogens were investigated by multilocus sequence typing. A total of 65 pseudomonads consisting of 58 Phl-positive biocontrol strains of worldwide origin and seven Phl-negative representatives of characterized Pseudomonas species were compared using 10 housekeeping genes (i.e. rrs, dsbA, gyrB, rpoD, fdxA, recA, rpoB, fusA, rpsL and rpsG). Multilocus sequence typing differentiated 51 strains among 58 Phl-positive pseudomonads and proved to be as discriminative as enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus polymerase chain reaction profiling. As phylogenetic trees inferred from each locus were rather incongruent with one another, we derived the topology from all concatenated loci, which led to the identification of six main groups of Phl-producing Pseudomonas spp. Taxonomically, these groups could correspond to at least six different species. Linkage disequilibrium analysis pointed to a rather clonal structure, even when the analysis was restricted to Phl-producing pseudomonads from a same geographic location or a same phylogenetic group. Intragenic recombination was evidenced for gyrB, rpoD and fdxA, but was shown to be a weaker force than mutation in the origin of intragenetic diversity. This is the first multilocus assessment of the phylogeny and population structure of an ecologically important bacterial group involved in plant disease suppression.