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J Microbiol Methods. 2008 May;73(2):148-59. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2008.01.009. Epub 2008 Feb 2.

Real-Time PCR quantification of PAH-ring hydroxylating dioxygenase (PAH-RHDalpha) genes from Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria in soil and sediment samples.

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Laboratoire des Interactions Microorganismes-Minéraux-Matière Organique dans les Sols UMR7137, Nancy Université, CNRS, Faculté des Sciences, B.P. 239, 54506 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy Cedex, France.


Real-Time PCR based assays were developed to quantify Gram positive (GP) and Gram negative (GN) bacterial populations that are capable of degrading the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in soil and sediment samples with contrasting contamination levels. These specific and sensitive Real-Time PCR assays were based on the quantification of the copy number of the gene that encodes the alpha subunit of the PAH-ring hydroxylating dioxygenases (PAH-RHDalpha), involved in the initial step of the aerobic metabolism of PAH. The PAH-RHDalpha-GP primer set was designed against the different allele types present in the data base (narAa, phdA/pdoA2, nidA/pdoA1, nidA3/fadA1) common to the Gram positive PAH degraders such as Rhodococcus, Mycobacterium, Nocardioides and Terrabacter strains. The PAH-RHDalpha-GN primer set was designed against the genes (nahAc, nahA3, nagAc, ndoB, ndoC2, pahAc, pahA3, phnAc, phnA1, bphAc, bphA1, dntAc and arhA1) common to the Gram negative PAH degraders such as Pseudomonas, Ralstonia, Commamonas, Burkholderia, Sphingomonas, Alcaligenes, Polaromonas strains. The PCR clones for DNA extracted from soil and sediment samples using the designed primers showed 100% relatedness to the PAH-RHDalpha genes targeted. Deduced from highly sensitive Real-Time PCR quantification, the ratio of PAH-RHDalpha gene relative to the 16S rRNA gene copy number showed that the PAH-bacterial degraders could represent up to 1% of the total bacterial community in the PAH-contaminated sites. This ratio highlighted a positive correlation between the PAH-bacterial biodegradation potential and the PAH-contamination level in the environmental samples studied.

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