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A Correlation Of Phylogenetic Diversity In The Proteobacteria With The Influences Of Ecological Forces

G. A. Zavarzin, E. Stackebrandt, R. G. E. Murray

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The Proteobacteria are physiologically and morphologically diverse, although they form a coherent set of four main lineages on phylogenetic analysis of ribosomal RNA. A rational and consistent taxonomic arrangement bringing today's phenotypic and phylogenetic conclusions about them into register is not yet possible. It is also difficult to understand the selective forces involved in their evolution that fostered such diversity. This latter problem is addressed in this essay and is based on the assumption that bacterial evolution could only have occurred in ecological consortia whose products of metabolism modified the environment, provided nutrition, and have a basis for selection of new capabilities. Key words: Proteobacteria, bacterial diversity, bacterial evolution, ecological selection.