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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Feb; 62(2): 668–675.
PMCID: PMC167834

Isolation and identification of methanogen-specific DNA from blanket bog peat by PCR amplification and sequence analysis.


The presence of methanogenic bacteria was assessed in peat and soil cores taken from upland moors. The sampling area was largely covered by blanket bog peat together with small areas of red-brown limestone and peaty gley. A 30-cm-deep core of each soil type was taken, and DNA was extracted from 5-cm transverse sections. Purified DNA was subjected to PCR amplification with primers IAf and 1100Ar, which specifically amplify 1.1 kb of the archaeal 16S rRNA gene, and ME1 and ME2, which were designed to amplify a 0.75-kb region of the alpha-subunit gene for methyl coenzyme M reductase (MCR). Amplification with both primer pairs was obtained only with DNA extracted from the two deepest sections of the blanket bog peat core. This is consistent with the notion that anaerobiosis is required for activity and survival of the methanogen population. PCR products from both amplifications were cloned, and the resulting transformants were screened with specific oligonucleotide probes internal to the MCR or archaeal 16S rRNA PCR product. Plasmid DNA was extracted from probe-positive clones of both types and the insert was sequenced. The DNA sequences of 8 MCR clones were identical, as were those of 16 of the 17 16S rRNA clones. One clone showed marked variation from the remainder in specific regions of the sequence. From a comparison of these two different 16S rRNA sequences, an oligonucleotide was synthesized that was 100% homologous to a sequence region of the first 16 clones but had six mismatches with the variant. This probe was used to screen primary populations of PCR clones, and all of those that were probe negative were checked for the presence of inserts, which were then sequenced. By using this strategy, further novel methanogen 16S rRNA variants were identified and analyzed. The sequences recovered from the peat formed two clusters on the end of long branches within the methanogen radiation that are distinct from each other. These cannot be placed directly with sequences from any cultured taxa for which sequence information is available.

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Selected References

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