Comparative genomics of Bacteria commonly identified in the built environment

Nancy Merino, Shu Zhang, Masaru Tomita, Haruo Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The microbial community of the built environment (BE) can impact the lives of people and has been studied for a variety of indoor, outdoor, underground, and extreme locations. Thus far, these microorganisms have mainly been investigated by culture-based methods or amplicon sequencing. However, both methods have limitations, complicating multi-study comparisons and limiting the knowledge gained regarding in-situ microbial lifestyles. A greater understanding of BE microorganisms can be achieved through basic information derived from the complete genome. Here, we investigate the level of diversity and genomic features (genome size, GC content, replication strand skew, and codon usage bias) from complete genomes of bacteria commonly identified in the BE, providing a first step towards understanding these bacterial lifestyles. Results: Here, we selected bacterial genera commonly identified in the BE (or "Common BE genomes") and compared them against other prokaryotic genera ("Other genomes"). The "Common BE genomes" were identified in various climates and in indoor, outdoor, underground, or extreme built environments. The diversity level of the 16S rRNA varied greatly between genera. The genome size, GC content and GC skew strength of the "Common BE genomes" were statistically larger than those of the "Other genomes" but were not practically significant. In contrast, the strength of selected codon usage bias (S value) was statistically higher with a large effect size in the "Common BE genomes" compared to the "Other genomes." Conclusion: Of the four genomic features tested, the S value could play a more important role in understanding the lifestyles of bacteria living in the BE. This parameter could be indicative of bacterial growth rates, gene expression, and other factors, potentially affected by BE growth conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity, and nutrients). However, further experimental evidence, species-level BE studies, and classification by BE location is needed to define the relationship between genomic features and the lifestyles of BE bacteria more robustly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number92
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 28


  • Bacteria
  • Built environment
  • Codon usage bias
  • Diversity
  • GC content
  • Genome size
  • Genomic features
  • Replication strand skew

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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