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J Microbiol Methods. 2001 May;45(1):53-60.

Analysis of fungal communities by sole carbon source utilization profiles.

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  • 1U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, Building 001, Room 140, BARC-West, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA.


A simple method for characterization of fungal communities in environmental samples was developed. Dilute suspensions of samples in 0.2% agar containing three different antibiotics were pipetted into 96-well plates (Biolog SF-N) containing a diverse collection of 95 different carbon sources. The plates were incubated for 4-12 days at 22 degrees C and the absorbance measured at 650 nm. Canonical variates analysis was then used to analyze the multivariate data. This method allowed fungal communities in rhizosphere soil of corn and soybean to be distinguished according to soil and plant type. Data taken at a single time-point, which varied greatly in total absorbance of the plate, separated rhizosphere samples primarily by soil type. When multiple time-points were combined to keep the total absorbance constant, differences in substrate utilization patterns due to different plant types could be distinguished. The method was also applicable to analysis of phylloplane and compost fungal communities. This method is readily applied to large numbers of samples and should be useful for community analysis in a variety of agricultural and ecological studies.

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