The luminous marine bacterium Photobacterium mandapamensis was synonymized several years ago with Photobacterium leiognathi based on a high degree of phenotypic and genetic similarity. To test the possibility that P. leiognathi as now formulated, however, actually contains two distinct bacterial groups reflecting the earlier identification of P. mandapamensis and P. leiognathi as separate species, we compared P. leiognathi strains isolated from light-organ symbiosis with leiognathid fishes (i.e., ATCC 25521(T), ATCC 25587, lequu.1.1 and lleuc.1.1) with strains from seawater originally described as P. mandapamensis and later synonymized as P. leiognathi (i.e., ATCC 27561(T) and ATCC 33981) and certain strains initially identified as P. leiognathi (i.e., PL-721, PL-741, 554). Analysis of the 16S rRNA and gyrB genes did not resolve distinct clades, affirming a close relationship among these strains. However, strains ATCC 27561(T), ATCC 33981, PL-721, PL-741 and 554 were found to bear a luxF gene in the lux operon ( luxABFE), whereas ATCC 25521(T), ATCC 25587, lequu.1.1 and lleuc.1.1 lack this gene ( luxABE). Phylogenetic analysis of the luxAB(F)E region confirmed this distinction. Furthermore, ATCC 27561(T), ATCC 33981, PL-721, PL-741 and 554 all produced a higher level of luminescence on high-salt medium, as previously described for PL-721, whereas ATCC 25521(T), ATCC 25587, lequu.1.1 and lleuc.1.1 all produced a higher level of luminescence on low-salt medium, a characteristic of P. leiognathi from leiognathid fish light organs. These results demonstrate that P. leiognathi contains two evolutionarily and phenotypically distinct clades, P. leiognathi subsp. leiognathi (strains ATCC 25521(T), ATCC 25587, lequu.1.1 and lleuc.1.1), and P. leiognathi subsp. mandapamensis (strains ATCC 27561(T), ATCC 33981, PL-721, PL-741 and 554).
2004. Vol. 181, no 5, 352-61 p.