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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Jul;71(7):4121-6.

Analysis of microbial gene transcripts in environmental samples.

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  • 1Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


We analyzed gene expression in marine and freshwater bacterioplankton communities by the direct retrieval and analysis of microbial transcripts. Environmental mRNA, obtained from total RNA by subtractive hybridization of rRNA, was reverse transcribed, amplified with random primers, and cloned. Approximately 400 clones were analyzed, of which approximately 80% were unambiguously mRNA derived. mRNAs appeared to be from diverse taxonomic groups, including both Bacteria (mainly alpha- and gamma-Proteobacteria) and Archaea (mainly Euryarchaeota). Many transcripts could be linked to environmentally important processes such as sulfur oxidation (soxA), assimilation of C1 compounds (fdh1B), and acquisition of nitrogen via polyamine degradation (aphA). Environmental transcriptomics is a means of exploring functional gene expression within natural microbial communities without bias toward known sequences, and provides a new approach for obtaining community-specific variants of key functional genes.

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