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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1988 May;54(5):1079-84.

Use of phylogenetically based hybridization probes for studies of ruminal microbial ecology.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


To address the long-standing need for more precise descriptions of natural microbial ecosystems, 16S rRNAs were used to track certain species and phylogenetically coherent groups of microorganisms in their natural setting without culturing. Species- and group-specific 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide hybridization probes were developed to enumerate various strains of Bacteroides succinogenes and Lachnospira multiparus-like organisms in the bovine rumen before, during, and after perturbation of that ecosystem by the addition of the ionophore antibiotic monensin. Based on probe hybridization, relative numbers of L. multiparus-like organisms were depressed about 2-fold during monensin addition and demonstrated a transient 5- to 10-fold increase immediately after removal of the antibiotic from the diet. The most pronounced population changes were observed among different strains of B. succinogenes, as evaluated by three hybridization probes. One probe hybridized to all strains, whereas the other two identified genetically distinct groups represented by strains isolated from the rumen and from the ceca of nonruminants. The rumen-type strains predominated on most days (ca. 0.2 to 0.8% of total ribosome numbers). Their proportion transiently increased about fivefold immediately after the addition of monensin to the feed and then transiently fell below the average premonensin level. During this time (ca. 2 weeks after monensin addition) the cecal type predominated (ca. 0.1 to 0.2%). Cultural enumeration of B. succinogenes on nonselective agar and by observing clearings in cellulose agar media were largely unsuccessful due to the low number of organisms present and the predominance of other cellulolytic species.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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