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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2000 Oct 1;34(1):57-62.

Geostatistical analysis of the distribution of NH(4)(+) and NO(2)(-)-oxidizing bacteria and serotypes at the millimeter scale along a soil transect.


Soil is known to be heterogeneous for different activities at several spatial scales. Most studies have focused on macro- and meso-scales but micro-scales are rarely addressed. Hence, the spatial structure of NH(4)(+)- and NO(2)(-)-oxidizers and of various serotypes of the latter was studied along two transects of approximately 10 cm, with two micro-samples taken from each millimeter. The presence of NH(4)(+)- and NO(2)(-)-oxidizers in a micro-sample was detected using colorimetric tests for the presence or absence of NO(2)(-) in cultures of the micro-samples. Geostatistics was used to determine the range of spatial influence of the bacterial types. For both types, semi-variograms indicated a non-random spatial pattern. The spatial dependence ranged from 2 to 4 mm for NO(2)(-)- and NH(4)(+)-oxidizers respectively, and the two bacterial types were not independently spatially located. Among the six serotypes of NO(2)(-)-oxidizers, only one exhibited a spatial dependence. The existence of a spatial structure at the millimeter scale suggests that micro-scale sampling should be employed for soil studies. Therby, data on bacterial populations and activities can be referred to a spatial scale which is meaningful to these organisms.

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