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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Mar;65(3):1280-8.

Fluorescence in situ hybridization using 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotides reveals localization of methanogens and selected uncultured bacteria in mesophilic and thermophilic sludge granules.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Systems Engineering, Nagaoka University of Technology, Nagaoka, Niigata 940-2188, Japan.


16S rRNA-targeted in situ hybridization combined with confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to elucidate the spatial distribution of microbes within two types of methanogenic granular sludge, mesophilic (35 degrees C) and thermophilic (55 degrees C), in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors fed with sucrose-, acetate-, and propionate-based artificial wastewater. The spatial organization of the microbes was visualized in thin sections of the granules by using fluorescent oligonucleotide probes specific to several phylogenetic groups of microbes. In situ hybridization with archaeal- and bacterial-domain probes within granule sections clearly showed that both mesophilic and thermophilic granules had layered structures and that the outer layer harbored mainly bacterial cells while the inner layer consisted mainly of archaeal cells. Methanosaeta-, Methanobacterium-, Methanospirillum-, and Methanosarcina-like cells were detected with oligonucleotide probes specific for the different groups of methanogens, and they were found to be localized inside the granules, in both types of which dominant methanogens were members of the genus Methanosaeta. For specific detection of bacteria which were previously detected by whole-microbial-community 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA)-cloning analysis (Y. Sekiguchi, Y. Kamagata, K. Syutsubo, A. Ohashi, H. Harada, and K. Nakamura, Microbiology 144:2655-2665, 1998) we designed probes specific for clonal 16S rDNAs related to unidentified green nonsulfur bacteria and clones related to Syntrophobacter species. The probe designed for the cluster closely related to Syntrophobacter species hybridized with coccoid cells in the inner layer of the mesophilic granule sections. The probe for the unidentified bacteria which were clustered with the green nonsulfur bacteria detected filamentous cells in the outermost layer of the thermophilic sludge granule sections. These results revealed the spatial organizations of methanogens and uncultivated bacteria and their in situ morphologies and metabolic functions in both mesophilic and thermophilic granular sludges.

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