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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Apr;71(4):2001-7.

Diversity of transcripts of nitrite reductase genes (nirK and nirS) in rhizospheres of grain legumes.

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  • 1Institute of Soil Ecology, GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, P.O. Box 1129, D-85764 Neuherberg, Germany.


Transcription of the nirK and nirS genes coding for dissimilatory bacterial nitrite reductases was analyzed by reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) of mRNA isolated from rhizosphere samples of three economically important grain legumes at maturity: Vicia faba, Lupinus albus, and Pisum sativum. The nirK gene and transcripts could be detected in all the rhizosphere samples. In contrast, nirS could not be detected. Sampling variations were analyzed by comparing denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiles derived from nirK RT-PCR products. High similarity was observed between the replicates, and so one representative product per legume was cloned. Clones with the correct insert size were screened by restriction fragment length polymorphism by using the restriction enzyme MspI. The clones could be distributed into 12 different patterns. Patterns 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 were common in clone libraries of the three rhizosphere types under study. Patterns 2, 9, 10, and 11 were absent from Pisum rhizospheres, while patterns 6, 8, and 12 were absent from the Vicia library. Pattern 1, which was the most dominant in the Vicia and Lupinus libraries, constituted about 25% of all clones. The Lupinus library had clones representing all 12 patterns, indicating it to be the most diverse among the three. Clones representative of each pattern were sequenced. All patterns grouped together forming a distinct cluster, which was divergent from previously described nirK sequences in the database. The study revealed a hitherto unknown diversity of denitrifiers in legume rhizospheres. A plant-dependent rhizosphere effect on the transcripts of a gene was evident.

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