The physical properties of most bacterial genomes are largely unexplored. We have previously demonstrated that the strict human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae is polyploid, carrying an average of three chromosome copies per cell and only maintaining one pair of replication forks per chromosome (D. M. Tobiason and H. S. Seifert, PLos Biol. 4:1069-1078, 2006). We are following up this initial report to test several predictions of the polyploidy model of gonococcal chromosome organization. We demonstrate that the N. gonorrhoeae chromosomes exist solely as monomers and not covalently linked dimers, and in agreement with the monomer status, we show that distinct nucleoid regions can be detected by electron microscopy. Two different approaches to isolate heterozygous N. gonorrhoeae resulted in the formation of merodiploids, showing that even with more than one chromosome copy, these bacteria are genetically haploid. We show that the closely related bacterium Neisseria meningitidis is also polyploid, while the commensal organism Neisseria lactamica maintains chromosomes in single copy. We conclude that the pathogenic Neisseria strains are homozygous diploids.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology