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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Sep;74(18):5615-20. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00349-08. Epub 2008 Jul 18.

Genetic and functional variation in denitrifier populations along a short-term restoration chronosequence.

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Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences, 450 Serra Mall, Braun Hall, Building 320, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2115, USA.


Complete removal of plants and soil to exposed bedrock, in order to eradicate the Hole-in-the-Donut (HID) region of the Everglades National Park, FL, of exotic invasive plants, presented the opportunity to monitor the redevelopment of soil and the associated microbial communities along a short-term restoration chronosequence. Sampling plots were established for sites restored in 1989, 1997, 2000, 2001, and 2003. The goal of this study was to characterize the activity and diversity of denitrifying bacterial populations in developing HID soils in an effort to understand changes in nitrogen (N) cycling during short-term primary succession. Denitrifying enzyme activity (DEA) was detected in soils from all sites, indicating a potential for N loss via denitrification. However, no correlation between DEA and time since disturbance was observed. Diversity of bacterial denitrifiers in soils was characterized by sequence analysis of nitrite reductase genes (nirK and nirS) in DNA extracts from soils ranging in nitrate concentrations from 1.8 to 7.8 mg kg(-1). High levels of diversity were observed in both nirK and nirS clone libraries. Statistical analyses of clone libraries suggest a different response of nirS- and nirK-type denitrifiers to factors associated with soil redevelopment. nirS populations demonstrated a linear pattern of succession, with individual lineages represented at each site, while multiple levels of analysis suggest nirK populations respond in a grouped pattern. These findings suggest that nirK communities are more sensitive than nirS communities to environmental gradients in these soils.

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