Open Access Research article

Metabolic and evolutionary insights into the closely-related species Streptomyces coelicolor and Streptomyces lividans deduced from high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization

Richard A Lewis1, Emma Laing1, Nicholas Allenby1, Giselda Bucca1, Volker Brenner2, Marcus Harrison23, Andrzej M Kierzek1 and Colin P Smith1*

Author Affiliations

1 Microbial Sciences Division, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

2 Oxford Gene Technology Ltd, Begbroke Business Park, Sandy Lane, Yarnton, Oxford, UK

3 Mediwatch Biomedical Ltd, Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, UK

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:682  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-682

Published: 1 December 2010



Whilst being closely related to the model actinomycete Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2), S. lividans 66 differs from it in several significant and phenotypically observable ways, including antibiotic production. Previous comparative gene hybridization studies investigating such differences have used low-density (one probe per gene) PCR-based spotted arrays. Here we use new experimentally optimised 104,000 × 60-mer probe arrays to characterize in detail the genomic differences between wild-type S. lividans 66, a derivative industrial strain, TK24, and S. coelicolor M145.


The high coverage and specificity (detection of three nucleotide differences) of the new microarrays used has highlighted the macroscopic genomic differences between two S. lividans strains and S. coelicolor. In a series of case studies we have validated the microarray and have identified subtle changes in genomic structure which occur in the Asp-activating adenylation domains of CDA non-ribosomal peptide synthetase genes which provides evidence of gene shuffling between these domains. We also identify single nucleotide sequence inter-species differences which exist in the actinorhodin biosynthetic gene cluster. As the glyoxylate bypass is non-functional in both S. lividans strains due to the absence of the gene encoding isocitrate lyase it is likely that the ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway functions as the alternative mechanism for the assimilation of C2 compounds.


This study provides evidence for widespread genetic recombination, rather than it being focussed at 'hotspots', suggesting that the previously proposed 'archipelago model' of genomic differences between S. coelicolor and S. lividans is unduly simplistic. The two S. lividans strains investigated differ considerably in genetic complement, with TK24 lacking 175 more genes than its wild-type parent when compared to S. coelicolor. Additionally, we confirm the presence of bldB in S. lividans and deduce that S. lividans 66 and TK24, both deficient in the glyoxylate bypass, possess an alternative metabolic mechanism for the assimilation of C2 compounds. Given that streptomycetes generally display high genetic instability it is envisaged that these high-density arrays will find application for rapid assessment of genome content (particularly amplifications/deletions) in mutational studies of S. coelicolor and related species.