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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 May;68(5):2391-6.

Improved culturability of soil bacteria and isolation in pure culture of novel members of the divisions Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia. pjanssen@unimelb.edu.au


The culturability of bacteria in the bulk soil of an Australian pasture was investigated by using nutrient broth at 1/100 of its normal concentration (dilute nutrient broth [DNB]) as the growth medium. Three-tube most-probable-number serial dilution culture resulted in a mean viable count that was only 1.4% of the mean microscopically determined total cell count. Plate counts with DNB solidified with agar and with gellan gum resulted in viable counts that were 5.2 and 7.5% of the mean microscopically determined total cell count, respectively. Prior homogenization of the soil sample with an ultrasonic probe increased the viable count obtained by using DNB solidified with gellan gum to 14.1% of the mean microscopically determined cell count. A microscopic examination of the cell aggregates that remained after sonication revealed that the potential CFU count was only 70.4% of the total cell count, due to cells occurring as pairs or in clumps of three or more cells. Staining with SYTO 9 plus propidium iodide indicated that 91.3% of the cells in sonicated soil samples were potentially viable. Together, these findings suggest that the maximum achievable CFU count may be as low as 64.3% of the total cell count. Thirty isolates obtained from plate counting experiments performed with DNB as the growth medium were identified by comparative analysis of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences. A large proportion of these isolates represent the first known isolates of globally distributed groups of soil bacteria belonging to novel lineages within the divisions Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia.

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