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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2001 May;35(3):249-258.

The microbial diversity in picoplankton enrichment cultures: a molecular screening of marine isolates.

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National Research Center for Biotechnology (GBF), Division of Microbiology, Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124, Braunschweig, Germany


Picoplankton bacteria from a North Sea water sample were cultured under a variety of different conditions (nutrients, temperature, light, agitation, adhesion). Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis of the enrichments showed complex communities which were dominated by gamma-Proteobacteria or beta-Proteobacteria, followed by alpha-Proteobacteria and bacteria from the Cytophaga/Flavobacterium/Bacteroides (CFB) cluster. Among 410 isolates, a high degree of diversity was found, both with respect to colony color and morphology and with respect to genetic diversity. Isolated bacteria were classified into the main taxa by a special PCR approach, termed signature PCR (SIG-PCR). It was based on an oligo primer mixture targeting 16S rDNA which yielded PCR products of taxon-specific lengths. Again, gamma-Proteobacteria dominated (48%), followed by alpha-Proteobacteria (20%). beta-Proteobacteria were rarely isolated (eight strains of 410). The CFB cluster comprised the second largest phylum (14%), and 7.5% of all isolates belonged to the high-GC Gram-positives. Thus, isolated bacteria were representative of enrichment communities with the exception of the beta-Proteobacteria, which were detected in high abundance in certain enrichments by FISH but not isolated, and the high-GC Gram-positives, which were cultivated but not detected by FISH. A genomic fingerprinting technique, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA, showed that among 58 CFB isolates only 18 identical genotypes were found, and among the 84 alpha-Proteobacteria only eight identical genotypes were present. The data show the enormous diversity of cultivated bacteria from picoplankton enrichment cultures of one North Sea water sample, which is only a small fraction of the total picoplankton community.

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