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Front Microbiol. 2012 Aug 21;3:290. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00290. eCollection 2012.

Dynamics of bacterial communities in two unpolluted soils after spiking with phenanthrene: soil type specific and common responders.

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Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants Braunschweig, Germany.


Considering their key role for ecosystem processes, it is important to understand the response of microbial communities in unpolluted soils to pollution with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Phenanthrene, a model compound for PAH, was spiked to a Cambisol and a Luvisol soil. Total community DNA from phenanthrene-spiked and control soils collected on days 0, 21, and 63 were analyzed based on PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprints of bacterial communities increasingly deviated with time between spiked and control soils. In taxon specific DGGE, significant responses of Alphaproteobacteria and Actinobacteria became only detectable after 63 days, while significant effects on Betaproteobacteria were detectable in both soils after 21 days. Comparison of the taxonomic distribution of bacteria in spiked and control soils on day 63 as revealed by pyrosequencing indicated soil type specific negative effects of phenanthrene on several taxa, many of them belonging to the Gamma-, Beta-, or Deltaproteobacteria. Bacterial richness and evenness decreased in spiked soils. Despite the significant differences in the bacterial community structure between both soils on day 0, similar genera increased in relative abundance after PAH spiking, especially Sphingomonas and Polaromonas. However, this did not result in an increased overall similarity of the bacterial communities in both soils.


DGGE; bacterial communities; phenanthrene; pyrosequencing; unpolluted soil

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