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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Sep;73(17):5642-7. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Distribution and diversity of archaeal ammonia monooxygenase genes associated with corals.

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Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Building 320 - Room 118, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2115, USA.


Corals are known to harbor diverse microbial communities of Bacteria and Archaea, yet the ecological role of these microorganisms remains largely unknown. Here we report putative ammonia monooxygenase subunit A (amoA) genes of archaeal origin associated with corals. Multiple DNA samples drawn from nine coral species and four different reef locations were PCR screened for archaeal and bacterial amoA genes, and archaeal amoA gene sequences were obtained from five different species of coral collected in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The 210 coral-associated archaeal amoA sequences recovered in this study were broadly distributed phylogenetically, with most only distantly related to previously reported sequences from coastal/estuarine sediments and oceanic water columns. In contrast, the bacterial amoA gene could not be amplified from any of these samples. These results offer further evidence for the widespread presence of the archaeal amoA gene in marine ecosystems, including coral reefs.

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