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Microb Ecol. 2009 Aug;58(2):244-61. doi: 10.1007/s00248-008-9481-9. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

The diverse bacterial community in intertidal, anaerobic sediments at Sapelo Island, Georgia.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2605, USA.


The phylogenetic diversity and composition of the bacterial community in anaerobic sediments from Sapelo Island, GA, USA were examined using 16S rRNA gene libraries. The diversity of this community was comparable to that of soil, and 1,186 clones formed 817 OTUs at 99% sequence similarity. Chao1 estimators for the total richness were also high, at 3,290 OTUs at 99% sequence similarity. The program RDPquery was developed to assign clones to taxonomic groups based upon comparisons to the RDP database. While most clones could be assigned to describe phyla, fewer than 30% of the clones could be assigned to a described order. Similarly, nearly 25% of the clones were only distantly related (<90% sequence similarity) to other environmental clones, illustrating the unique composition of this community. One quarter of the clones were related to one or more undescribed orders within the gamma-Proteobacteria. Other abundant groups included the delta-Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Cyanobacteria. While these phyla were abundant in other estuarine sediments, the specific members at Sapelo Island appeared to be different from those previously described in other locations, suggesting that great diversity exists between as well as within estuarine intertidal sediments. In spite of the large differences in pore water chemistry with season and depth, differences in the bacterial community were modest over the temporal and spatial scales examined and generally restricted to only certain taxa.

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