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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jan 7;94(1):277-82.

Molecular phylogeny of Archaea from soil.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53706, USA.


Cultivation methods have contributed to our present knowledge about the presence and diversity of microbes in naturally occurring communities. However, it is well established that only a small fraction of prokaryotes have been cultivated by standard methods and, therefore, the prokaryotes that are cultivated may not reflect the composition and diversity within those communities. Of the two prokaryotic phylogenetic domains, Bacteria and Archaea, members of the former have been shown to be ubiquitous in nature, with ample evidence of vast assemblages of uncultured organisms. There is also now increasingly compelling evidence that the Archaea, which were once thought to occupy a limited number of environments, are also globally widespread. Here we report the use of molecular phylogenetic techniques, which are independent of microbial cultivation, to conduct an assessment of Archaea in a soil microbial community. Small subunit ribosomal RNA genes of Archaea were amplified from soil and cloned. Phylogenetic and nucleotide signature analyses of these cloned small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequences revealed a cluster of Archaea from a soil microbial community that diverge deeply from the crenarchaeotal line of descent and has the closest affiliation to the lineage of planktonic Archaea. The identification and phylogenetic classification of this archaeal lineage from soil contributes to our understanding of the ecological significance of Archaea as a component of microbial communities in non-extreme environments.

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