• Selenomonas ruminantium ;
  • plasmid instability;
  • rolling-circle replication;
  • gene cassettes


Characteristic feature of the most of Selenomonas ruminantium cryptic plasmids is the presence of short, conserved sequences encompassing the gene for replication protein creating a potential rep gene cassette. PCR-based experiment was designed to analyse the genetic organization of putative plasmid rep modules and to assess S. ruminantium plasmid biodiversity. Analysed PCR amplicons contained single open reading frames encoding for putative replication proteins. While most of the derived protein sequences were often found to be conserved among putative plasmid molecules, at noncoding regions, genetic variability was observed to various extents. Complete nucleotide sequence of a plasmid was determined that contained probably a new rep gene only distantly related to known selenomonas Rep proteins but at noncoding regions shared high homology with already known plasmids. Our results document considerable structural instability and sequence variability of analysed rep gene cassettes and suggest a modular structure of S. ruminantium plasmids potentially accessible for rep gene module exchanges.