Streptomycetaceae: Phylogeny, Ecology and Pathogenicity

Abstract

The family Streptomycetaceae contains three genera, Streptomyces, Kitasatospora and Streptacidiphilus, with Streptomyces being the best known and most diverse of these three genera. Members of this family are adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions and habitats, and show a variety of colony – and cell morphological characteristics. Streptomyces are notable for their complex developmental cycle and production of bioactive secondary metabolites, producing more than two‐thirds of commercially available and clinically useful antibiotics of natural origin (e.g. neomycin, cypemycin, grisemycin, bottromycins and chloramphenicol). Antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and immunosuppressant compounds have all been identified as products of Streptomyces secondary metabolism. Isolated predominantly from soil and decaying vegetation, most streptomycetes produce spores. Many of them produce a distinct ‘earthy’ odour that results from production of a volatile metabolite, geosmin. They are also capable of forming many and diverse hydrolytic exoenzymes, like cellulases and chitinases. The genetics and genomics of streptomycetes is a rapidly developing area. Only a few Streptomyces species are known to be pathogens, although infections, in humans, such as mycetoma, can be caused by S. somaliensis and S. sudanensis, and in plants can be caused by S. caviscabies, S. acidiscabies, S. turgidiscabies and S. scabies.

Key Concepts

  • Comparisons of whole genome sequences will become the future basis of classification of Streptomyces species.
  • Morphological and physiological features as well as chemotaxonomic markers remain distinctive and important for the taxonomy of the family Streptomycetaceae.
  • Genetics and Genomics of streptomycetes reveal complex mechanisms of adaptation to various environments.
  • Antimicrobial compounds and other secondary metabolites are produced in natural habitats inter‐kingdom communication, as signal molecules or defence molecules to defend a growth niche.

Keywords: streptomycetes; phylogeny; taxonomy; life cycle; habitat; antibiotic producers; pathogenicity

Figure 1. Phylogenetic relatedness of the families of the order of Actinomycetales based on 16S rRNA gene sequence comparison. The dendrogram was constructed by analysing approximately 1400 bp of each sequence with the maximum parsimony method contained in the ARB software package. A total of 4032 sequences were analysed. Bar, 0.1% divergence.
Figure 2. Life cycle of streptomycetes grown on solid media. Unlike most bacteria, streptomycetes exhibit a complex multicellular development. (a) Initially, a filamentous mycelium colonises its substrate. After a period of assimilative growth, (b) aerial hyphae grow into the air and eventually (c) septate to form chains of pigmented exospores. Reproduced from Claesen et al. (2006) Regulation of streptomyces developments: reach for the sky! Trends in Microbiology 14(D): 313–319, © Elsevier.
Figure 3. Spore chain morphology of various Streptomyces strains. Morphological features: (a) Rectus‐Flexibilis with warty surface; (b) Rectus‐Flexibilis with hairy surface; (c) Spira with smooth surface; (d) Retinaculum‐Apertum with smooth surface. With the kind permission of Dr. Joachim Wink, Aventis Pharma Deutschland GmbH.
Figure 4. Colour patterns of various Streptomyces strains. (a) Streptomyces spectabilis, (b) S. purpurascens, (c) S. cinereoruber subsp. cinereoruber, (d) S. glaucescens, (e) S. violaceus, (f) S. lateritius.
Figure 5. Streptomyces sp. grow out of a surface sterilised grass root that was put on an agar plate and incubated for several weeks at 25 °C.
Figure 6. Colonies of Streptomyces somaliensis, a human pathogen. With the kind permission of Dr. Joachim Wink, Aventis Pharma Deutschland GmbH.
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Further Reading

Kämpfer P (2006) The family Streptomycetaceae – Part 1: taxonomy. In: Dworkin M, Falkow S, Rosenberg E, Schleifer K‐H and Stackebrandt E (eds) The Prokaryotes, vol. 3, pp. 538–604. New York: Springer.

Kämpfer P, Glaeser SP, Parkes L, van Keulen G and Dyson P (2014) The family Streptomycetaceae. In: Rosenberg E, DeLong EF, Lory S, Stackebrandt E and Thompson F (eds) The Prokaryotes, 4th – Actinobacteria edn, pp. 889–1010. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer‐Verlag.

Kieser T, Bibb MJ, Buttner MJ, Chater KF and Hopwood DA (2000b) Practical Streptomyces Genetics. Norwich: The John Innes Foundation.

Miyadoh S, Tsuchizaki N, Ishikawa J and Hotta K (2015) Digital Atlas of Actinomycetes. www.actino.jp/DigitalAtlas/ (accessed 14 Nov 2015).

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Glaeser, Stefanie P, and Kämpfer, Peter(Jan 2016) Streptomycetaceae: Phylogeny, Ecology and Pathogenicity. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020392.pub2]