Estimation of prokaryote genomic DNA G+C content by sequencing universally conserved genes

Pierre Edouard Fournier, Karsten Suhre, Ghislain Fournous, Didier Raoult

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Determination of the DNA G+C content of prokaryotic genomes using traditional methods is time-consuming and results may vary from laboratory to laboratory, depending on the technique used. We explored the possibility of extrapolating the genomic DNA G+C content of prokaryotes from gene sequences. For this, 127 universally conserved genes were studied from 50 prokaryotic genomes in the Clusters of Orthologous Groups database. Of these, 57 genes were present as a single copy in the genomes of 157 different prokaryote species available in GenBank. There was a strong correlation [coefficient of determination (r2) > 95 %] between the DNA G+C contents of 20 genes and their corresponding genomes. For each of the 157 prokaryotic genomes studied, the DNA G+C content of the 20 genes was used to determine a 'calculated' genome DNA G+C content (CGC) and this value was compared with the 'real' genome DNA G+C content (RGC). In order to select the most suitable gene for the determination of CGC values, we compared the r2 and median mol% difference between CGC and RGC as well as the sensitivity of each gene to provide CGC values for prokaryotic genomes that differ by less than 5 mol% from their RGC. The highly conserved ftsY gene (median size 1144 nucleotides), a vertically inherited member of the GTPase superfamily, showed the highest r2 value of 0.98, the smallest median mol% difference between CGC and RGC of 1.06 and a sensitivity of 100 %. Using ftsY DNA G+C content values, the CGC values of 100 genomes not included in the calculation of r2 differed by less than 5 mol% from their RGC values. These data suggest that the genomic DNA G+C content of prokaryotes may be estimated easily and reliably from the ftsY gene sequence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63903
Pages (from-to)1025-1029
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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