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Environ Microbiol. 2009 Dec;11(12):3096-104. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.02014.x. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Spatial patterns of bacterial taxa in nature reflect ecological traits of deep branches of the 16S rRNA bacterial tree.

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INRA, UMR 1229, F-21000 Dijon, France.


Whether bacteria display spatial patterns of distribution and at which level of taxonomic organization such patterns can be observed are central questions in microbial ecology. Here we investigated how the total and relative abundances of eight bacterial taxa at the phylum or class level were spatially distributed in a pasture by using quantitative PCR and geostatistical modelling. The distributions of the relative abundance of most taxa varied by a factor of 2.5-6.5 and displayed strong spatial patterns at the field scale. These spatial patterns were taxon-specific and correlated to soil properties, which indicates that members of a bacterial clade defined at high taxonomical levels shared specific ecological traits in the pasture. Ecologically meaningful assemblages of bacteria at the phylum or class level in the environment provides evidence that deep branching patterns of the 16S rRNA bacterial tree are actually mirrored in nature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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