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Curr Microbiol. 2001 May;42(5):316-22.

Improved method for detection of methanotrophic bacteria in forest soils by PCR.

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Fraunhofer Institute for Atmospheric Environmental Research, Division Biosphere/Atmosphere Exchange, Department of Soil Microbiology, Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19, D-82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.


A primer set was designed for the specific detection of methanotrophic bacteria in forest soils by PCR. The primer sequences were derived from highly conservative regions of the pmoA gene, encoding the alpha-subunit of the particulate methane monooxygenase present in all methanotrophs. In control experiments with genomic DNA from a collection of different type I, II, and X methanotrophs, it could be demonstrated that the new primers were specific for members of the genera Methylosinus, Methylocystis, Methylomonas, Methylobacter, and Methylococcus. To test the suitability of the new primers for the detection of particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO) containing methanotrophs in environmental samples we used DNA extracts from an acid spruce forest soil. For simple and rapid purification of the DNA extracts, the samples were separated by electrophoresis on a low-melting-point agarose gel. This allowed us to efficiently separate the DNA from coextracted humic acids. The DNA from the melted agarose gel was ready for use in PCR reactions. In PCR reactions with DNA from the Ah soil layer, products of the correct size were amplified by PCR by use of the new primers. By sequencing of cloned PCR products, it could be confirmed that the PCR products represented partial sequences with strong similarity to the pmoA gene. The sequence was most related to the pmoA sequence of a type II methanotroph strain isolated from the Ah layer of the investigated soils.

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