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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2005 Apr 1;52(2):185-95. Epub 2004 Dec 29.

Diversity and vertical distribution of magnetotactic bacteria along chemical gradients in freshwater microcosms.

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Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstr. 1, D-28359, Bremen, Germany.


The vertical distribution of magnetotactic bacteria along various physico-chemical gradients in freshwater microcosms was analyzed by a combined approach of viable cell counts, 16S rRNA gene analysis, microsensor profiling and biogeochemical methods. The occurrence of magnetotactic bacteria was restricted to a narrow sediment layer overlapping or closely below the maximum oxygen and nitrate penetration depth. Different species showed different preferences within vertical gradients, but the largest proportion (63-98%) of magnetotactic bacteria was detected within the suboxic zone. In one microcosm the community of magnetotactic bacteria was dominated by one species of a coccoid "Alphaproteobacterium", as detected by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis in sediment horizons from 1 to 10 mm depth. Maximum numbers of magnetotactic bacteria were up to 1.5 x 10(7) cells/cm3, which corresponded to 1% of the total cell number in the upper sediment layer. The occurrence of magnetotactic bacteria coincided with the availability of significant amounts (6-60 microM) of soluble Fe(II), and in one sample with hydrogen sulfide (up to 40 microM). Although various trends were clearly observed, a strict correlation between the distribution of magnetotactic bacteria and individual geochemical parameters was absent. This is discussed in terms of metabolic adaptation of various strains of magnetotactic bacteria to stratified sediments and diversity of the magnetotactic bacterial communities.

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