Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Evolution of the streptomycin and viomycin biosynthetic clusters and resistance genes

By Paris Laskaris


The distribution of the streptomycin (strA) and viomycin (vph) resistance genes was examined in Streptomyces isolates. It was hypothesised that non-antibiotic producers that are niche competitors with producers will need to possess resistance to the antibiotic and will thus have acquired resistance genes. A detailed phylogenetic study, utilizing a novel multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme, was made of a collection of isolates and types strains with a Streptomyces griseus phenotype in addition to type strains from known producers of streptomycin and related compounds. strA and vph were found either within a biosynthetic gene cluster or independently. S. griseus strains possessing the streptomycin cluster formed part of a clonal complex and have been readily isolated from soil originating in every continent except Antarctica. Few copies of strA were detected in soil total community DNA, none of which were identical to the gene from the streptomycin cluster. All S. griseus strains possessing solely strA belonged to two clades and were closely related to streptomycin producers. The strA in the resistance-only strains is likely to have originated from the self-resistance gene of another aminoglycoside cluster and arrived in those S. griseus strains via horizontal gene transfer. S. griseus strains with only vph also formed two clades and were more distantly related to the producers than to one another. The high sequence divergence of the viomycin resistance genes also suggests that the vph homologue arrived in these two groups from another peptide antibiotic cluster via horizontal gene transfer. The expression of the strA gene was constitutive in resistance-only strains from both subgroups whereas streptomycin producers showed peak strA expression in late log phase which correlates with the switch on of streptomycin biosynthesis. One example of horizontal gene transfer of the streptomycin cluster was discovered, to a Streptomyces platensis strain, which contained a cluster with 84% sequence identity and almost identical gene structure and arrangement to that of the S. griseus cluster. Its expression pattern was also highly similar to that of S. griseus producers, but at a much lower level. Whilst there is evidence that antibiotics have diverse roles in nature, this work clearly supports the co-evolution of resistance in the presence of antibiotic biosynthetic capability within closely related soil dwelling bacteria. This reinforces the view that, for some antibiotics at least, the primary role is one of antibiosis during competition in soil for resources

Topics: QR
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1997). A proposal to revive the genus Kitasatospora doi
  2. (1985). Alteration of ribosomes and RNA polymerase in drug-resistant clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. doi
  3. (1999). Aminoglycoside phosphotransferases: proteins, structure, and mechanism. doi
  4. (2009). An update of the structure and 16S rRNA gene sequence-based definition of higher ranks of the class Actinobacteria, with the proposal of two new suborders and four new families and emended descriptions of the existing higher taxa. doi
  5. (2007). Antibiotics as signalling molecules. doi
  6. (2005). Bacterial resistance to antibiotics: enzymatic degradation and modification. doi
  7. (2000). Codon-substitution models for heterogeneous selection pressure at amino acid sites.
  8. (2009). Compendium of Actinobacteria. Vol.
  9. (1996). Diversity of soil actinomycetes in
  10. (2009). Diversity rankings among bacterial lineages in soil. doi
  11. (2004). DNA-binding specificity of AdpA, a transcriptional activator in the A-factor regulatory cascade in Streptomyces griseus. doi
  12. (2008). Gamma-butyrolactonedependent expression of the Streptomyces antibiotic regulatory protein gene srrY plays a central role in the regulatory cascade leading to lankacidin and lankamycin production in Streptomyces rochei. doi
  13. (2003). Identification and cloning of genes encoding viomycin biosynthesis from Streptomyces vinaceus and evidence for involvement of a rare oxygenase. doi
  14. (2007). PAML 4: phylogenetic analysis by maximum likelihood. doi
  15. (2007). Patterns of bacterial diversity across a range of Antarctic terrestrial habitats. doi
  16. (1994). Point mutations in the chloroplast 16s rRNA gene confer streptomycin resistance in Nicotiana plumbaginifolia. doi
  17. (1979). Role of ribosomal protein S12 in discrimination of aminoacyl-tRNA.
  18. (2007). The antibiotic resistome: the nexus of chemical and genetic diversity. doi
  19. (2006). The truth about antibiotics. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.