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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2006 Jul;57(1):67-79.

Differences in structure and dynamics of Polynucleobacter communities in a temperate and a subtropical lake, revealed at three phylogenetic levels.

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Institute for Limnology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Mondsee, Austria.


The results of ecological studies investigating bacteria by cultivation-independent methods are expected to be influenced by the phylogenetic resolution of the applied molecular tools. This potential influence was investigated in a comparative community study on Polynucleobacter cluster bacteria (Betaproteobacteria) inhabiting the pelagic of the large, shallow, partially hypertrophic Taihu Lake located in subtropical East Asia, and the deep oligo-mesotrophic Lake Mondsee located in temperate Central Europe. The two contrasting habitats were sampled over the same period of 12 months. The community dynamics were investigated at three phylogenetic levels by fluorescent in situ hybridizations with a set of nested probes specific for the beta II clade (including the Polynucleobacter cluster), the genus-like monophyletic Polynucleobacter cluster, and four species-like subclusters. Subcluster B was the numerically dominating subcluster in both lakes over the investigation periods, but demonstrated different population dynamics in the two habitats. Interhabitat comparisons of the Polynucleobacter community structure in the two lakes in the study, and a previously investigated acidic pond indicated ecological diversification within the phylogenetically narrow Polynucleobacter cluster. These results could be obtained by help of the subcluster-specific probes, but would have been missed with probes of a lower phylogenetic resolution.

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