Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Evolutionary conservation of essential and highly expressed genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Andreas Dötsch1, Frank Klawonn34, Michael Jarek2, Maren Scharfe2, Helmut Blöcker2 and Susanne Häussler15*

Author affiliations

1 Chronic Pseudomonas Infections Research Group, Helmholtz-Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany

2 Department of Genome Research, Helmholtz-Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany

3 Project Group Bioinformatics and Statistics, Helmholtz-Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany

4 Department of Computer Science, University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel, Wolfenbüttel, Germany

5 Twincore, Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, joint venture of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and the Medical School Hannover, Hannover, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:234  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-234

Published: 9 April 2010



The constant increase in development and spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics poses a serious threat to human health. New sequencing technologies are now on the horizon that will yield massive increases in our capacity for DNA sequencing and will revolutionize the drug discovery process. Since essential genes are promising novel antibiotic targets, the prediction of gene essentiality based on genomic information has become a major focus.


In this study we demonstrate that pooled sequencing is applicable for the analysis of sequence variations of strain collections with more than 10 individual isolates. Pooled sequencing of 36 clinical Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates revealed that essential and highly expressed proteins evolve at lower rates, whereas extracellular proteins evolve at higher rates. We furthermore refined the list of experimentally essential P. aeruginosa genes, and identified 980 genes that show no sequence variation at all. Among the conserved nonessential genes we found several that are involved in regulation, motility and virulence, indicating that they represent factors of evolutionary importance for the lifestyle of a successful environmental bacterium and opportunistic pathogen.


The detailed analysis of a comprehensive set of P. aeruginosa genomes in this study clearly disclosed detailed information of the genomic makeup and revealed a large set of highly conserved genes that play an important role for the lifestyle of this microorganism. Sequencing strain collections enables for a detailed and extensive identification of sequence variations as potential bacterial adaptation processes, e.g., during the development of antibiotic resistance in the clinical setting and thus may be the basis to uncover putative targets for novel treatment strategies.