Bacterial avidins are a widely distributed protein family in Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes

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Background: Avidins are biotin-binding proteins commonly found in the vertebrate eggs. In addition to streptavidin from Streptomyces avidinii, a growing number of avidins have been characterized from divergent bacterial species. However, a systematic research concerning their taxonomy and ecological role has never been done. We performed a search for avidin encoding genes among bacteria using available databases and classified potential avidins according to taxonomy and the ecological niches utilized by host bacteria. Results: Numerous avidin-encoding genes were found in the phyla Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria. The diversity of protein sequences was high and several new variants of genes encoding biotin-binding avidins were found. The living strategies of bacteria hosting avidin encoding genes fall mainly into two categories. Human and animal pathogens were overrepresented among the found bacteria carrying avidin genes. The other widespread category were bacteria that either fix nitrogen or live in root nodules/rhizospheres of plants hosting nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Conclusions: Bacterial avidins are a taxonomically and ecologically diverse group mainly found in Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, associated often with plant invasiveness. Avidin encoding genes in plasmids hint that avidins may be horizontally transferred. The current survey may be used as a basis in attempts to understand the ecological significance of biotin-binding capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
JournalBMC Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Avidin
  • Biotin-binding
  • Defense protein
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant invasiveness

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)


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