Sims, G. E., Kim, S. H.
Whole-genome Phylogeny of Escherichia Coli/Shigella Group by Feature Frequency Profiles (FFPs)
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 May 02;
A whole-genome phylogeny of the Escherichia coli/Shigella group was constructed by using the feature frequency profile (FFP) method. This alignment-free approach uses the frequencies of l-mer features of whole genomes to infer phylogenic distances. We present two phylogenies that accentuate different aspects of E. coli/Shigella genomic evolution: (i) one based on the compositions of all possible features of length l = 24 ( approximately 8.4 million features), which are likely to reveal the phenetic grouping and relationship among the organisms and (ii) the other based on the compositions of core features with low frequency and low variability ( approximately 0.56 million features), which account for approximately 69% of all commonly shared features among 38 taxa examined and are likely to have genome-wide lineal evolutionary signal. Shigella appears as a single clade when all possible features are used without filtering of noncore features. However, results using core features show that Shigella consists of at least two distantly related subclades, implying that the subclades evolved into a single clade because of a high degree of convergence influenced by mobile genetic elements and niche adaptation. In both FFP trees, the basal group of the E. coli/Shigella phylogeny is the B2 phylogroup, which contains primarily uropathogenic strains, suggesting that the E. coli/Shigella ancestor was likely a facultative or opportunistic pathogen. The extant commensal strains diverged relatively late and appear to be the result of reductive evolution of genomes. We also identify clade distinguishing features and their associated genomic regions within each phylogroup. Such features may provide useful information for understanding evolution of the groups and for quick diagnostic identification of each phylogroup.