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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Polyamines as a chemotaxonomic marker in bacterial systematics.

Aliphatic linear polyamines, from diamines to hexaamines, tertiary branched tetraamines, and quaternary branched pentaamines are widely distributed in eubacteria, archaebacteria, and cyanobacteria. Twenty-four linear types and four branched types are acid extractable from bacterial cells and can be chromatographically analyzed and identified. The varieties of polyamines are due to the combination of amino acid decarboxylase activities to form diamines, aminopropyl- and aminobutyl-transfer activities mediated by aminopropyltransferases or Schiff-base complex formation, and hydroxylation activity. The absence or presence of spermidine, norspermidine or homospermidine and the occurrence of 2-hydroxyputrescine and diaminopropane are related to grouping into the alpha, beta, gamma, and delta subclasses within Proteobacteria. Flavobacterium complex and green bacteria contain putrescine and homospermidine. Gram-negative thermophiles contain long linear and branched polyamines; however, their distribution profiles are species specific. Gram-positive eubacteria, which comprise Bacillus cluster, anaerobes, and actinomycetes, ubiquitously contain putrescine and spermidine, while the occurrence of spermine is limited to thermophiles. Archaebacteria are separated into polyamine-absent methanogens and halophiles, homospermidine-dominant methanogens, spermidine-dominant methanogens, and spermidine- and norspermidine-containing thermophiles. Cyanobacteria comprise two types; one group contains homospermidine and the other spermidine. The polyamine distribution pattern can serve as a chemotaxonomic marker in bacterial classification and is associated with bacterial systematics on the level of order, family, or genus.[1]


  1. Polyamines as a chemotaxonomic marker in bacterial systematics. Hamana, K., Matsuzaki, S. Crit. Rev. Microbiol. (1992) [Pubmed]
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