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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 May;66(5):1980-6.

Horizontal heterogeneity of denitrifying bacterial communities in marine sediments by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Although it is widely believed that horizontal patchiness exists in microbial sediment communities, determining the extent of variability or the particular members of the bacterial community which account for the observed differences among sites at various scales has not been routinely demonstrated. In this study, horizontal heterogeneity was examined in time and space for denitrifying bacteria in continental shelf sediments off Tuckerton, N.J., at the Rutgers University Long-Term Ecosystem Observatory (LEO-15). Characterization of the denitrifying community was done using PCR amplification of the nitrous oxide reductase (nosZ) gene combined with terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Spatial scales from centimeters to kilometers were examined, while temporal variation was assayed over the course of 1995 to 1996. Sorenson's indices (pairwise similarity values) were calculated to permit comparison between samples. The similarities of benthic denitrifiers ranged from 0.80 to 0.85 for centimeter scale comparisons, from 0.52 to 0.79 for meter level comparisons, and from 0.23 to 0.53 for kilometer scale comparisons. Sorenson's indices for temporal comparisons varied from 0.12 to 0.74. A cluster analysis of the similarity values indicated that the composition of the denitrifier assemblages varied most significantly at the kilometer scale and between seasons at individual stations. Specific nosZ genes were identified which varied at centimeter, meter, or kilometer scales and may be associated with variability in meio- or macrofaunal abundance (centimeter scale), bottom topography (meter scale), or sediment characteristics (kilometer scale).

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