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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 May;76(10):3106-15. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01688-09. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Application of molecular techniques to elucidate the influence of cellulosic waste on the bacterial community structure at a simulated low-level-radioactive-waste site.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA.


Low-level-radioactive-waste (low-level-waste) sites, including those at various U.S. Department of Energy sites, frequently contain cellulosic waste in the form of paper towels, cardboard boxes, or wood contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides such as chromium and uranium. To understand how the soil microbial community is influenced by the presence of cellulosic waste products, multiple soil samples were obtained from a nonradioactive model low-level-waste test pit at the Idaho National Laboratory. Samples were analyzed using 16S rRNA gene clone libraries and 16S rRNA gene microarray (PhyloChip) analyses. Both methods revealed changes in the bacterial community structure with depth. In all samples, the PhyloChip detected significantly more operational taxonomic units, and therefore relative diversity, than the clone libraries. Diversity indices suggest that diversity is lowest in the fill and fill-waste interface (FW) layers and greater in the wood waste and waste-clay interface layers. Principal-coordinate analysis and lineage-specific analysis determined that the Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria phyla account for most of the significant differences observed between the layers. The decreased diversity in the FW layer and increased members of families containing known cellulose-degrading microorganisms suggest that the FW layer is an enrichment environment for these organisms. These results suggest that the presence of the cellulosic material significantly influences the bacterial community structure in a stratified soil system.

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