Natural replacement of vertically inherited lux-rib genes of Photobacterium aquimaris by horizontally acquired homologues


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We report here the first instance of a complete replacement of vertically inherited luminescence genes by horizontally acquired homologues. Different strains of Photobacterium aquimaris contain homologues of the lux-rib genes that have a different evolutionary history. Strain BS1 from the Black Sea contains a vertically inherited lux-rib operon, which presumably arose in the ancestor of this species, whereas the type strain NBRC 104633T, from Sagami Bay, lacks the vertically inherited lux-rib operon and instead carries a complete and functional lux-rib operon acquired horizontally from a bacterium related to Photobacterium mandapamensis. The results indicate that the horizontal acquisition of the lux genes expanded the pan-genome of P. aquimaris, but it did not influence the phylogenetic divergence of this species.