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Microb Ecol. 2007 Feb;53(2):328-39.

A molecular approach to identify active microbes in environmental eukaryote clone libraries.

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School of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern, Erwin-Schroedinger-Str. 14, D-67663, Kaiserslautern, Germany.


A rapid method for the simultaneous extraction of RNA and DNA from eukaryote plankton samples was developed in order to discriminate between indigenous active cells and signals from inactive or even dead organisms. The method was tested using samples from below the chemocline of an anoxic Danish fjord. The simple protocol yielded RNA and DNA of a purity suitable for amplification by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and PCR, respectively. We constructed an rRNA-derived and an rDNA-derived clone library to assess the composition of the microeukaryote assemblage under study and to identify physiologically active constituents of the community. We retrieved nearly 600 protistan target clones, which grouped into 84 different phylotypes (98% sequence similarity). Of these phylotypes, 27% occurred in both libraries, 25% exclusively in the rRNA library, and 48% exclusively in the rDNA library. Both libraries revealed good correspondence of the general community composition in terms of higher taxonomic ranks. They were dominated by anaerobic ciliates and heterotrophic stramenopile flagellates thriving below the fjord's chemocline. The high abundance of these bacterivore organisms points out their role as a major trophic link in anoxic marine systems. A comparison of the two libraries identified phototrophic dinoflagellates, "uncultured marine alveolates group I," and different parasites, which were exclusively detected with the rDNA-derived library, as nonindigenous members of the anoxic microeukaryote community under study.

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