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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Nov;72(11):6965-71. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

Phylogenetic comparisons of bacterial communities from serpentine and nonserpentine soils.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, Oregon 97520, USA. olined@sou.edu


I present the results of a culture-independent survey of soil bacterial communities from serpentine soils and adjacent nonserpentine comparator soils using a variety of newly developed phylogenetically based statistical tools. The study design included site-based replication of the serpentine-to-nonserpentine community comparison over a regional scale ( approximately 100 km) in Northern California and Southern Oregon by producing 16S rRNA clone libraries from pairs of samples taken on either side of the serepentine-nonserpentine edaphic boundary at three geographical sites. At the division level, the serpentine and nonserpentine communities were similar to each other and to previous data from forest soils. Comparisons of both richness and Shannon diversity produced no significant differences between any of the libraries, but the vast majority of phylogenetically based tests were significant, even with only 50 sequences per library. These results suggest that most samples were distinct, consisting of a collection of lineages generally not found in other samples. The pattern of results showed that serpentine communities tended to be more similar to each other than they were to nonserpentine communities, and these differences were at a lower taxonomic scale. Comparisons of two nonserpentine communities generally showed differences, and some results suggest that the geographical site may control community composition as well. These results show the power of phylogenetic tests to discern differences between 16S rRNA libraries compared to tests that discard DNA data to bin sequences into operational taxonomic units, and they stress the importance of replication at larger scales for inferences regarding microbial biogeography.

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