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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2000 Mar 1;31(3):207-215.

Molecular analysis of ammonia-oxidising bacteria in soil of successional grasslands of the Drentsche A (The Netherlands).

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Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Terrestrial Ecology, Boterhoeksestraat 48, P.O. Box 40, 6666 ZG, Heteren, The Netherlands


Changes in the community structure of chemolitho-autotrophic ammonia-oxidising bacteria of the beta-subgroup Proteobacteria were monitored during nutrient-impoverishment management of slightly acidic, peaty grassland soils, which decreased in pH with succession. Specific PCR, cloning and sequence analysis, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and probe hybridisation were used to analyse rDNA sequences directly recovered from successional soils. Four previously characterised ammonia oxidiser sequence clusters were recovered from each soil, three associated with the genus Nitrosospira and one with the genus Nitrosomonas. All samples were dominated by Nitrosospira-like sequences. Nitrosospira cluster 3 was the most commonly recovered ammonia oxidiser group in all fields, but a greater representation of Nitrosospira clusters 2 and 4 was observed in older fields. Most probable number (MPN) counts were conducted using neutral and slightly acid conditions. Neutral pH (7.5) MPNs suggested a decrease in ammonia oxidiser numbers in later successional fields, but this trend was not observed using slightly acid (pH 5.8) conditions. Analysis of terminal MPN dilutions revealed a distribution of sequence clusters similar to direct soil DNA extractions. However, an increased relative recovery of Nitrosospira cluster 2 was observed for acid pH MPNs compared to neutral pH MPNs from the most acidic soil tested, in agreement with current hypotheses on the relative acid tolerance of this group.

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