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Microb Ecol. 2001 Feb;41(2):149-161.

Design and Performance of rRNA Targeted Oligonucleotide Probes for in Situ Detection and Phylogenetic Identification of Microorganisms Inhabiting Acid Mine Drainage Environments.

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Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


At Iron Mountain, CA, there is an extreme occurrence of acid mine drainage (AMD). This is a result of past mining activity that has exposed a sulfide ore body to weathering and microbial activity. This study presents seven new oligonucleotide probes for the detection of microorganisms at this AMD site by fluorescent in situ hybridization. In the design of these probes we have accounted for a large body of 16S rRNA sequence data recently compiled by us. This was obtained by PCR and cloning directly from environmental DNA and was mostly represented by novel sequences. The probes were developed to include detection of novel and uncultivated organisms. This includes detection for the Thermoplasmales group, a new group of Leptospirillum, the genus Sulfobacillus, the Acidiphilium genus, Acidimicrobium and relatives, and for organisms within the delta Proteobacteria. These probes have been used to examine the abundance and distribution of organisms, including novel and uncultivated taxa, and to clarify their potential contributions to AMD production at the site. We anticipate that these probes will be useful tools for exploration of the microbiology of other natural acidic environments and bioleaching systems.


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