The microsatellites of Escherichia coli: Rapidly evolving repetitive DNAs in a non-pathogenic prokaryote

David Metzgar*, Elizabeth Thomas, Clara Davis, Dawn Field, Christopher Wills

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


We have demonstrated hypervariability of native short-motif repeats (microsatellites) in Escherichia coil. Twenty-five of the longest microsatellites in the E. coli genome were identified. These were analysed for length variability among 22 wild-type (non-mutator) isolates from the E. coli collection of reference (ECOR). Non-coding mononucleotide repeats are consistently polymorphic among these genetically diverse E. coli. Length differences in variable microsatellites allowed all E. coli strains examined to be uniquely differentiated. Phylogenetic analysis of the variable repeats shows ubiquitous homoplasy at the level of divergence represented by the sample set, suggesting that these markers are hypermutable and should prove valuable for the discrimination of closely related strains that are not otherwise genetically differentiable. Genomic analyses suggest that similar markers are also likely to be found in all other prokaryotes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 30 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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