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ISME J. 2012 Feb;6(2):475-9. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.112. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

A biogeographic distribution of magnetotactic bacteria influenced by salinity.

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Biogeomagnetism Group, Paleomagnetism and Geochronology Laboratory, Key Laboratory of the Earth's Deep Interior, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), which synthesize intracellular ferromagnetic magnetite and/or greigite magnetosomes, have significant roles in global iron cycling in aquatic systems, as well as sedimentary magnetism. The occurrence of MTB has been reported in aquatic environments from freshwater to marine ecosystems; however, the distribution of MTB across heterogeneous habitats remains unclear. Here we examined the MTB communities from diverse habitats across northern and southern China, using comprehensive transmission electron microscopy and comparison of 16S rRNA gene analyses. A total of 334 16S rRNA gene sequences were analyzed, representing the most comprehensive analysis on the diversity and distribution of MTB to date. The majority (95%) of sequences belong to the Alphaproteobacteria, whereas a population of giant magnetotactic rod is affiliated with the Nitrospirae phylum. By a statistical comparison of these sequence data and publicly available MTB sequences, we infer for the first time that the composition of MTB communities represents a biogeographic distribution across globally heterogeneous environments, which is influenced by salinity.

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