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Microb Ecol. 2004 Apr;47(3):218-23. Epub 2004 Apr 2.

Distribution of Nevskia ramosa and other rosette-forming neustonic bacteria.

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  • 1Institut für Chemie und Biologie des Meeres, Universität Oldenburg, D-26111, Oldenburg, Germany.


Samples from 27 natural and artificial aquatic environments were analyzed for the presence of rosette-forming bacteria by a combined cultivation and molecular biological approach. Rosette-forming bacteria developed in 20 enrichment cultures with ammonia-free medium under air. Three morphotypes could be distinguished. The most abundant type I resembled Nevskia ramosa and formed hydrophobic, flat, and dichotomously branching rosettes. Type II rosettes were three-dimensional and were observed in 10 enrichments, often together with those of type I. These rosettes were hydrophilic indicating life in the hyponeuston underneath the air-water interface. Rosettes of a third type consisted of hydrophilic slime stalks that were excreted at the cell poles and were observed in only one sample. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with the Nevskia-specific probes NEV177 and NEV656, the presence of Nevskia ramosa was demonstrated in exactly those samples that showed type I rosettes. In a series of most-probable-number experiments, during a calm and sunny weather period 430,000 Nevskia-like bacteria per mL were found in surface samples, while during rainy weather and within the water body the numbers were lower by several orders of magnitude. Five pure cultures isolated from various enrichments were characterized in detail. The two isolates forming type I rosettes were identified as Nevskia ramosa by 16S rDNA analysis. However, comparison by genomic fingerprinting (ERIC-PCR) revealed differences between the two isolates and previously characterized strains. The 16S rDNA of two isolates forming type II rosettes showed 97.6% similarity to that of Pseudomonas fluorescens. The closest relative of the isolate forming type III rosettes was Sphingomonas parapaucimobilis (96.4% sequence similarity of the 16S rRNA sequence). All isolates grew homogeneously submersed if ammonia was added to the medium. Our results indicate that Nevskia ramosa is a widely distributed epineustonic bacterium, which can specifically be deleted by its flat and hydrophobic rosettes on ammonia-free media.

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